This week's multi-part cover story about the state of the state of marijuana takes a look at Amendment 64 and how legislators will address implementing the legalization of small amounts of cannabis and the shops that will sell it. Our print edition also features a Q&A with Amendment 64 proponent Mason Tvert. But for a broader look, we also caught up with several other cannabis activists, as well as representatives of business groups, to ask them their take on A64 and the challenges ahead. Today's interview: Colorado marijuana attorney Warren Edson.
Westword: Five years ago, where did you see Colorado in regard to cannabis legalization by 2013?
Warren Edson: In April 2008, we were just seeing the development of the medical marijuana industry. The true industry boom didn't begin until Obama's election a few months later in November 2008. In April, I was hoping that we would see the development of actual MMJ stores. I was also hoping that we would see more small towns make marijuana its lowest priority or even remove their municipal rules prohibiting marijuana. I did not see this state passing a recreational legalization law that would allow retail marijuana manufacturing and sales. Do you think we the state have met that goal with Amendment 64? I do not think we have an answer to this until we see the results of this legislative session.
WW: Where do we go from here as a state?
WE: We will have to suffer through years of rule making.
WW: What is the biggest challenge you see going forward/what still needs to be done?
WE: Marijuana needs to be declassified on a federal level for further change to occur.
WW: What is important for Colorado citizens to know about cannabis legalization?
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WE: Cannabis laws still exist in Colorado. It still remains illegal to use marijuana "open and publicly" and the City of Denver can charge you: $100 plus court costs plus sixteen hours public service, which costs $75, plus up to fifteen days in jail. Yes, fifteen days in jail. Also, Colorado still has laws on the books that allow child abuse charges to be filed against anyone who brings their children to a premises that contains a marijuana grow without needing to prove actual harm to the child or even that the child was aware of the grow.
WW: Anything else you'd like to add.
WE: If 5 nanograms THC in a person's blood becomes Colorado's new measure of cannabis intoxication, despite its total lack of scientific basis, it will not only falsely convict numerous Colorado citizens of DUID, but will also trickle down and have a major negative impact in family law and child custody cases. Hopefully the MMJ patient won't be lost in the continued A64 rule making.
More from our Marijuana archive: "Marijuana Q&A with Rico Colibri: 'This isn't legalization.... This is regulation.'"