Marijuana

Marijuana advocate: Each day feds are silent about Amendment 64 is a good one

It's been over six months since voters approved Amendment 64, which allows adults 21 and over in Colorado to use and possess small amounts of marijuana, and the Obama administration still hasn't weighed in on the measure.

Last week, we speculated that the delays would continue thanks to current scandals that touch upon the Justice Department, and one of the main A64 proponents won't complain if they do.

"Really, every day that passes that the federal government does not say anything about Amendment 64 is just fine with me," notes Sensible Colorado's Brian Vicente, one of the law's main authors and co-director of the campaign for the proposal. By the feds' silence, he adds, "they're allowing this to move forward."

As we've pointed out, marijuana remains a Schedule I narcotic according to the Drug Enforcement Administration, meaning its use for all purposes, including medical ones, remains illegal federally.

Because Amendment 64 is in direct conflict with this edict, Governor John Hickenlooper and Colorado Attorney General John Suthers asked U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to provide guidance for the state during a conference call shortly after the election. However, their sense of urgency hasn't been matched in Washington.

In March, Holder promised that an A64 decision would be coming soon. But more than two months have passed since then -- and brewing scandals involving spying on the phone calls of Associated Press reporters and alleged targeting of Tea Party groups by the Internal Revenue Service are expected to dominate Holder's attention for the foreseeable future.

That leaves marijuana-scene observers to guess at what the feds will do based on indirect evidence, like President Barack Obama's recent comments in Mexico about his disinterest in legalizing drugs. But Vicente is glad officials in Colorado chose to take steps toward the implementation of Amendment 64, via several new pieces of legislation currently awaiting Hickenlooper's signature, rather than stalling until the Justice Department acted.

The feds "haven't come out and said they're going to shut it down," Vicente stresses. "So I think they're allowing these laws and various interests to get more entrenched."

Not that Vicente is wholly disinterested in the feds' ultimate decision.

Continue for more of our interview with marijuana proponent Brian Vicente.
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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.
Contact: Michael Roberts

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