Lakewood legislative group examines Amendment 64

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Amendment 64 and its effects on both the state and local level was the topic of discussion by lawmakers and experts at the May Lakewood legislative meeting.

Reps. Brittany Pettersen (D-House Dist. 28) and Max Tyler (D-House Dist. 23) and Sen. Andy Kerr (D-Sen. Dist. 22) were on hand to discuss some of the bills related to marijuana that they had come across, but the meeting was led by Sen. Cheri Jahn (D-Sen. Dist. 20) who was assigned to the Amendment 64 task force when the amendment passed.

“We have some experts here today, and though I feel like an expert because I’ve been working on this for so long, I’m still going through the process on the Amendment,” Jahn said.

“Part of our focus is we really have to educate people on the difference between state and federal laws. We don’t want the federal government coming to Colorado, so we need to do this really thoughtfully.”

Of particular focus in the discussion was HB-1318, which refers a ballot measure to voters that would apply a 15 percent excise tax on wholesale marijuana and a 10 percent sales tax on retail sales. If passed, the measure would be on the ballot in November.

Christian Sederberg, a lawyer who works on medical marijuana and drug policy, spoke about the real aim of the amendment being a better way to regulate marijuana so that it is kept away from children and there is no need for a black market anymore.

“As a businesses owner we were very concerned that the rules and laws were properly down,” said Kristi Kelly, co-founder of Good Meds medical marijuana, which has a shop in Lakewood.

She talked about the challenges marijuana business face. “We really view this as a forum for us to demonstrate responsible use and practices.”

Rep. Jonathan Singer (D-Longmont), who said he was one of the few elected officials in favor of Amendment 64, believes that a robust regulatory market would not only help keep marijuana out of children’s hands, but the taxes proposed in HB-1318 would be a key part of regulating the new market.

Questions from attendees varied from information about second-hand smoke and contact highs to if there will be tourism built around the legalization and the labeling on edibles.

To some who expressed concern about Amendment 64, resident Rod Smith said “we need to think about it and take responsibility for our own actions.”

For Sederberg, it’s a matter of making sure that the whole process is fair and efficient.

“We want Colorado to be a model for this,” he said.

“We want the 55 percent of people who voted for it to be happy, and the 45 percent of people who didn’t to hopefully say it’s not so bad, or maybe even good.”