Page 2 of 4
"Personally, I have always felt that the (federal) government has wasted a lot of time prosecuting marijuana sales," says Schmidt. "If we legalize it and tax it, hopefully we will take it out of control of the drug cartels (in Mexico). I think that's an important thing. It might put it into control of corporations. They might be just as evil, but they tend not to kill as many people."
Ski towns, like other jurisdictions, are mostly biding their time until Colorado's legislature creates laws implementing the legalization mandated by voters. The first stores selling recreational marijuana can't open until next January. However, towns and counties must decide by Oct. 1, when the state's medical registry opens for business, whether to allow or ban new stores. If allowed, existing medical dispensaries will get the first shot.
State legislators and regulators must still hash out scores of sticky issues, including licensing and security requirements for stores, advertising restrictions, and labelling and health standards.
Big questions include: How sales be taxed and where the revenue will be allocated? Should non-residents be allowed to buy marijuana? Restricting sales to just Coloradans would be very challenging to do, says Kevin Bommer, deputy director of the Colorado Municipal League.
Also a hot-button item, especially among opponents, is whether easier availability of marijuana will lead to increased use among children and adolescents. Some evidence suggests greater harm to still-developing bodies and minds from use of marijuana.
Colorado's legalization began in 2000, when nearly 54 per cent of voters approved a constitutional amendment that authorized use by patients diagnosed with glaucoma, cancer, and other illnesses, but also severe pain, persistent muscle spasms, and other ailments.
The law gave permission to caregivers and patients to legally possess marijuana, but only two ounces.
That put Colorado into direct conflict with the federal laws, but there were few clashes.
A state court ruling in 2007 cleared the way for street front dispensaries, and in 2009 state officials eliminated the five-patient limit for caregivers.
Soon after, officials in the new Obama administration announced they would not prosecute patients and caregivers who were in "clear and unambiguous compliance" with state law.
Within just a few years, the number of people with medical marijuana cards in Colorado, population 5.3 million, ballooned from 1,000 to 145,000. About 70 per cent of patients were males, with an average age of 40, according to the Washington Park Profile.
Only one per cent of patients have glaucoma, and two per cent cancer, while 94 per cent of patients cited "severe pain" as the basis of need. About 85 per cent of referrals were made by a handful of doctors.
May 23, 2013, 5:02 AM
Locals frustrated by damage to village; police log 17 cases of mischief over one night More...
May 23, 2013, 5:01 AM
Task handed to EPI Committee for attention More...
May 23, 2013, 5:00 AM
Work to begin this summer in an effort to update hall, improve customer service More...