Amendment 64: Marijuana consumers need a seat at the table, says Colorado NORML

The passage of Amendment 64 will require government officials to establish rules for an entirely new industry. In advance of this step, representatives from the Colorado branch of NORML (National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws) are scheduled to meet tomorrow with representatives of Governor John Hickenlooper. The goal: to ensure that the voice of cannabis consumers is heard loud and clear throughout the process. This information comes from attorney Sean McAllister, a member of the NORML legal committee, and a longtime advocate for progressive marijuana policies. Last week, McAllister circulated a press release headlined "Colorado NORML Calls on Governor Hickenlooper to Stand Up for Amendment 64" -- see it below in its entirety -- and he says Hick's staff was receptive to a sit-down. Tomorrow, folks from NORML and the governor's legal team will chat informally about the amendment and the road ahead.

"NORML is going there with a positive message," McAllister stresses. "We're going to point out that a majority of voters voted for this and want this implemented -- and we feel the process should be open."

As McAllister points out, Hickenlooper and other legislators have floated the idea of a bipartisan commission to develop A64 guidelines -- and he believes such a group should include as many stakeholders as possible.

"There should be representation from non-legislators," he maintains, "and it shouldn't be dominated by law enforcement. There need to be advocates on behalf of consumers."

Those behind the Amendment 64 fit that bill, McAllister acknowledges, "but the campaign represents all the interests: potential retailers, wholesalers, cultivators and consumers. But I also think the medical marijuana industry and cannabis consumers should have a seat at the table. And that's what NORML hopes to do -- represent consumers and what's in their best interests.

Continue to read more of our interview with Sean McAllister about NORML's meeting with governor's office staffers. In McAllister's opinion, "there are lots of issues that impact consumers, assuming the law is implemented" -- a reference to the possibility of intervention by the federal government, whose marijuana laws conflict with those just approved by a majority of Coloradans. "We want to make sure there's no registry of names or overly burdensome record keeping -- like something showing that John Smith smokes two ounces a month. We want to protect consumers' privacy in the process.

"Obviously, consumers had a major role in the approval of Amendment 64, and we want to make sure they're represented to the maximum amount possible. That's what we're seeking."

McAllister is confident the governor's office has a similar understanding.

"What I take away from the fact that they're willing to meet with us and were prompt getting back to us is that they want input from longtime activists like NORML and the campaign," he says. "I don't expect commitments on Wednesday, but I think it shows they're willing to listen to the cannabis community, and I hope they'll continue with that process.

"At this point, the governor's office and advocates are all on the same side," he continues. "We're all trying to implement the will of the people."

Here's the NORML press release:

NORML Amendment 64 Press Release

More from our Marijuana archive: "NORML exec predicts THC driving bill's return, hopes for improvement."

KEEP WESTWORD FREE... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts