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Cannabiz: Troubles with state task force

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Task Force trouble

"All stakeholders share an interest in creating efficient and effective regulations that provide for the responsible development of the new marijuana laws," reads the executive order declaring the creation of the Task Force on the Implementation of Amendment 64.

Not everyone is convinced, however, that all of Gov. John Hickenlooper's appointees to the Task Force will be working in good faith.

The appointees — bipartisan legislators, lawyers, experts and advocates, 24 strong — include Tamra Ward, CEO of Colorado Concern, a business alliance. The Colorado Springs Medical Cannabis Council, in a letter addressed to the Governor's Legal Counsel, points to a document signed by Ward and 17 other Colorado business leaders urging U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to enforce the federal-level Controlled Substances Act and "vigorously enforce the CSA against those individuals and organizations that possess, manufacture, or distribute marijuana for recreational use, even if such activities are permitted under state law."

According to the state release, Ward's role on the Task Force will be to represent the interests of "employers." CSMCC's Mark Slaugh, in an interview with the Indy, characterizes Ward and her fellow anti-legalization partisans as solely representing "large, regional" businesses, as opposed to the small businesses that he says comprise most of the job creation in Colorado. CSMCC's letter "suggests" replacing Ward with someone who represents a small-business coalition.

Moreover, there's the whole democracy thing. "Fifty-five percent of Coloradans voted to regulate marijuana like alcohol," says Slaugh. "[Ward] signed off on this letter requesting the Department of Justice to enforce federal law over the will of the people." That letter asked the DOJ to do so to provide a "bright line" of "clarity" and "certainty" for employers. Slaugh called this a misunderstanding of Amendment 64, which he says, "in no way ... affects private employment practices."

For her part, Ward declines comment, adding only in an e-mail that she "[understands] the scope of the Task Force, and the responsibilities as outlined by Governor Hickenlooper ... to represent Colorado's business community in this process."

Keef crumbs

• The aforementioned task force began work Monday on developing regulations for legalized cannabis, reports the Denver Post. Sexier topics include the potential legality of "Amsterdam-style" marijuana clubs.

Westword reports that Republican state Sen. Steve King will propose, for the third year running, legislation rigidly defining THC intoxication — again as 5 nanograms or more per milliliter of blood. The new legislation, however, reportedly permits a "permissible inference" defense, allowing juries to consider evidence showing that drivers testing above the limit (heavy-dosage users, tested days after ingesting any THC, for example) were not, in fact, impaired.

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