Marijuana Officially Legal In Colorado

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1min 40sec

On Monday, Governor John Hickenlooper formally declared Amendment 64 to be part of the state's constitution. Voters approved the measure last month. Colorado Public Radio’s Megan Verlee reports on what’s next.

[The following is a transcript of Megan Verlee's report]

REPORTER MEGAN VERLEE: It’s now legal for people 21 and older to grow and possess small amounts of the drug. But commercial sales and production won’t be allowed until late next year. To develop regulations for the industry, Hickenlooper unveiled a new state task force, with members ranging from lawmakers to an addiction doctor, to Colorado’s Secretary of Agriculture.

GOVERNOR HICKENLOOPER: "This taskforce is a way for us to hear a lot of different points of view, and to allow those points of view to coalesce and come up with a set of policies and regulations that reflect at least some consensus."

REPORTER: The governor isn’t saying what kind of regulations he wants to see. For task force member Dan Pabon, a Democratic state representative, the big concern will be enforcing age restrictions.

REP. DAN PABON: "My primary focus is to make sure that people who should not have access to this drug - children - don’t have access to it. And so public safety is going to be a very important component."

REPORTER: The panel has until the end of February to come up with possible regulations. State lawmakers will consider the suggestions as they write the new rules. Marijuana supporter Mason Tvert hailed Hickenlooper's ratification of Amendment 64 as a historic day.

MASON TVERT: "It’s wonderful to know that adults 21 and older will no longer be arrested and prosecuted and made criminals, simply for using marijuana in their own homes."

REPORTER: A handful of marijuana supporters celebrated by smoking pot on the steps of the capitol, a violation of Amendment 64, which bars public consumption. The big question now is how the federal government will respond. The US Attorney for Colorado issued a statement Monday emphasizing that federal law trumps state policy. But there’s no hint yet of when, or how, federal officials will act.

[Photo: MVerlee/CPR]