Marijuana: No public input before temporary Amendment 64 rules take effect July 1

When Governor John Hickenlooper signed six marijuana bills last week, casual observers may have been tempted to believe the hard work of putting Amendment 64 into effect is over. But no: Now comes the laborious process of creating rules and regulations for the assorted measures by July 1, four weeks from today. As such, the Department of Revenue, in charge of the process, will enact temporary regs on an emergency basis -- and at least one A64 campaign powerhouse is perfectly fine with that.

"Fortunately," says proponent Mason Tvert, "there's been significant opportunity for the public to comment throughout the entire process."

On this point, at least, Tvert is in agreement with the Revenue department, which is operating under a tight deadline imposed by the amendment's language. One passage of the law reads, "Not later than July 1, 2013, the Department shall adopt regulations necessary for implementation of this section" -- specifically, passages under the heading, "Regulation of Marijuana."

Because Hickenlooper inked the laws to make A64 flesh on May 28, the DOR had just over a month to accomplish this enormous task -- and officials clearly believe doing so while holding public hearings will be impossible. As such, the department has issued an announcement, on view below in its entirety, to establish "temporary/emergency rulemaking" sans additional input from interested parties, at least for the remainder of June. The rationale is explained in the following passage:

Governor Hickenlooper established a Task Force that brought together a wide variety of stakeholders, heard extensive testimony from the public, and provided recommendations to the Governor, General Assembly, and Attorney General regarding implementation of Amendment 64. A special Joint Select Committee was convened to review the Task Force recommendations and draft legislation. Given the breadth and depth of the public participation in connection with the Task Force and the implementing legislation and the short time within which the State Licensing Authority is required to adopt emergency rules, there will not be opportunity for additional input from the public prior to July 1.

That sounds reasonable to Tvert.

"Given the deadline, it's understandable," he maintains. "They're working quickly and they feel they're taking public sentiment expressed throughout the legislative process into account as they develop these rules. And the rules will be revisited again in the very near future."

Indeed, the announcement notes that in July or early August, "the State Licensing Authority will establish a representative group of participants with an interest in the subject of the rulemaking to provide input;" members are expected to include "various stakeholders." Shortly thereafter, on August 19, the formal rulemaking hearing will take place.

Tvert understands that the rulemaking process will be just as important as the one pertaining to the recently passed bills. "The voters in Colorado have made it clear they want marijuana to be a product that's regulated and treated like other legal products -- particularly alcohol," he says. "And it's up to the Department of Revenue to create regulations that reflect that."

Moreover, he continues, "representatives from the campaign have remained involved in ensuring that the intent and the letter Amendment 64 are being followed, and we'll continue to do so."

Here's the DOR announcement.

Retail Marijuana Rulemaking Announcement

More from our Marijuana archive: "Marijuana: Governor John Hickenlooper signs six pot bills that 'are charting new territory.'"

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