Marijuana: Activist Rico Colibri on creating Amendment 64 Shadow Task Force

On the day Governor John Hickenlooper signed Amendment 64, he also announced the formation of a task force intended to make recommendations about the measure's implementation. Since then, some observers have complained about the task force's membership. Hence, a number of reformers are announcing today the creation of an A64 Shadow Task Force intended to help influence the official group, as well as legislators and regulators working to put the measure into effect.

The Shadow Task Force is a joint effort of the Cannabis Alliance for Regulation and Education (CARE), led by Rico Colibri, and the Miguel Lopez's Denver 420 Rally organization. According to Colibri, the idea for such a panel emerged during discussions between him and fellow activist Kathleen Chippi.

"We've attended some meetings and reviewed the public information that's been made available so far, and we noticed that the [governor's] task force, albeit made up of people who are highly intelligent in their respective fields, are mulling over stuff that's already been done in 1284," says Colibri, referencing HB-1284, the law that established the structure of the state's medical marijuana industry. "Our concern is that some advocates, like Christian Sederberg and Lauren Davis, are being bogged down in conversations that aren't very productive."

An example? "Some people are still discussing state-run stores," he notes -- and indeed, this approach was touted in Westword earlier this week by task force member Dr. Christian Thurstone. "Anyone who has read the amendment knows that has absolutely nothing to do with it. And there's also been a discussion that somehow marijuana plants should cooperate and stop at 15 percent THC. I helped co-write some of the cultivation rules for 1284, and when I hear things like that, it's concerning to me that some task force members don't understand marijuana as a plant."

Some of these questions may simply be borne out of ignorance, Colibri believes -- but not all of them.

"We have some task force members who don't fully support the idea of regulating marijuana like alcohol," he maintains. "In fact, they don't seem to support regulating it in any fashion and appear to be trying to derail the process rather than implementing the will of the voters."

Continue for more of our interview with Rico Colibri about the Amendment 64 Shadow Task Force. To counter these drawbacks, Colibri and Chippi conceived a Shadow Task Force to be made up of individuals with marijuana expertise, including consumers and what he refers to as "civil rights representatives" -- Latinos and African Americans who've been among the groups most impacted by law enforcement crackdowns on cannabis over the years. He doesn't believe Latino task force members such as Commissioner of Agriculture John Salazar and the Colorado Commission on Criminal & Juvenile Justice's Charles Garcia, not to mention assorted law enforcement reps, are speaking for such groups.

"It's like having the government in the deep South contemplate civil rights in the '50s," he says. "It's not the best way to get a full perspective on the issue."

To provide what's missing, the Shadow Task Force -- which will likely consist of 24 members, to echo the size of the Hickenlooper-sanctioned version -- intends to create a website where information and recommendations can be shared in real time, as well as a white paper that can be provided to receptive members of the governor's task force, legislators in the general assembly and more. They'll also be monitoring developments on the medical marijuana front. Take a 2 p.m. meeting of the A64 regulatory work group at the Medical Marijuana Enforcement Division's 445 Sherman Street offices. Colibri says representatives of the Cannabis Business Alliance and the Medical Marijuana Industry Group are expected to make presentations there -- and members of the Shadow Task Force will be on hand to take notes on proposals with an eye toward moving developments in what they see as a positive direction.

Time is of the essence, Colibri stresses. "These guys have thirty days to make important recommendations to the general assembly," he says. "We don't have time to play anymore."

The press conference announcing the launch of the Shadow Task Force gets underway at 1:15 p.m. at Lincoln Park, across the street from the State Capitol.

Continue to read the press release for today's event, dubbed the "Marijuana State of the State." Here's the Shadow Task Force press release:

The Marijuana State of The State

The Cannabis Alliance for Regulation and Education (C.A.R.E), in partnership with The Denver 420 Rally, is announcing the formation of the A64 Shadow Task Force to supplement the Governor's Amendment 64 Task Force on regulating marijuana, similar to the HuffPost Shadow Conventions. We feel the formation of such a group is needed after reviewing the task force's first set of meetings, as it became clear that Colorado needs a broader and more inclusive and diverse think tank based on real world experience with marijuana.

The purpose of the A64 Shadow Task Force is to assist in providing the General Assembly with recommendations on implementing a reasonable regulatory model like alcohol, which 55 percent of Coloradans voted for. The A64 Shadow Task Force seeks to include a broader spectrum of community stakeholders who are currently underrepresented on the Governors Task Force, such as civil rights representatives, victims of criminal marijuana laws, farmers, consumers, doctors, MMJ patients and MMJ industry members. The A64 Shadow Task Force will respond to all of the subject matter that the Governor's Task Force covers, as well as review and address additional issues, facts and observations that are not currently being addressed.

A press conference will be held with a few speakers on January 10, 2013 at 1:15 p.m. at Lincoln Park, directly across from the State Capitol between Colfax and 14th Avenue on Lincoln Street.

Anyone interested in joining or contributing to the A64 Shadow Task Force should send a resume to Rico Colibri at [email protected].

More from our Marijuana archive: "Amendment 64: Should retail marijuana shops be limited to Colorado residents?"

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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.
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