While most Coloradans anxiously await the implementation of Amendment 64, local activists Max Rashbaum and Rico Colibri moved forward this week by submitting language for title on a peoples’ initiative to make Nederland the first town in the United States to regulate marijuana since it’s prohibition some 76 years ago.
If the initiative is adopted, Nederland would provide a counterpoint to the unfortunate pattern of local bans on recreational cannabis sales throughout the state. “It’s about time Coloradans have the opportunity to express their newly found freedom without fear of being forced into an over-regulated market or an unregulated club,” Rashbaum said, echoing the sentiments in the findings of the proposed ordinance.
“If marijuana establishments pursuant to section 16 of article 18 to the Colorado Constitution were not allowed to operate before October 1, 2013, Colorado marijuana consumers who wish to obtain marijuana would have no option but to purchase from the black market, bolstering the profits of criminal organizations, increasing criminal activities and endangering other wise law abiding citizens,” Rashbaum said. “To allow recreational use of marijuana without providing a lawful source to purchase marijuana is detrimental to the public health, safety and welfare.”
That last paragraph might provide some instructive reading for Washington state officials, where voters legalized recreational use and possession of up to an ounce of marijuana for adults — but which won’t even start on the challenge of opening state-licensed cannabis outlets until December.Colibri, also a member of the Amendment 64 Shadow Task Force, explained that Coloradans need to seize the moment. “Now that Amendment 64 passed it is the property of the people and not just special interest groups lobbing at the capitol,” he said.
“It is time to be pro-activists instead of re-activists and not stand idly by while the Governor’s Task Force still grapples over unreasonable ideas such as state run stores, arbitrary THC caps, bans on felons in the industry and unconstitutional restrictions on advertising, all of which have less to do with how alcohol is regulated and is more akin to 1937 Reefer Madness,” Colibri said.
Amendment 64 only requires the following issues be addressed, according to Colibri: that the State regulate marijuana like alcohol, amending current drug laws to reflect newly noncriminal activities, the enactment of an excise tax to fund schools and the implementation of an industrial hemp industry.
The proponents hope to collect 420 signatures from registered Nederland voters to show the Nederland Board of Trustees that the proposed ordinance has strong community support. They’re hoping that would encourage the Board of Trustees to pass the ordinance within 30 days after the signatures are verified.
“This would save Nederland from spending money the town doesn’t have to pass another costly and burdensome regulatory scheme as it had under HB1284 which cost the town well over $40,000 and caused the closure of six out of eight taxpaying MMJ businesses,” Colibri said. According to Colibri, this reduced marijuana taxes’ share of the town’s total revenue “from 20 percent gross to 1.5 percent in the span of a year.”
The proponents say they have intentionally created an inclusive and responsible regulatory model with the concerns of protecting the public health, safety and welfare in mind and hope to set an example that the state and other local municipalities can emulate.
“The ordinance was designed to implement the will of the 55 percent of Coloradans who voted to regulate marijuana like alcohol,” Colibri said. The proponents say they specifically avoided cumbersome medical-marijuana-like overregulation and used existing liquor regulations as their model.
The ordinance regulates retail marijuana stores in a fashion similar to brew pubs, which allows for on- and off-premise consumption, franchising and the ability to manufacture.
The ordinance allows for both vertical and non-vertical manufacturing, addressing the concerns of rural business owners who might not be able to afford a large grow, while giving other businesses control over their product branding and quality similar to the microbrew industry.
Colorado is famous for the quality of it’s microbrews, a fact recently touted by Governor Hickenlooper, the previous owner of Colorado’s first brew pub, the Wynkoop, over a friendly wager: “As I said before, for it to be a fair bet, we would have had to send two to three bottles of Colorado craft beer for every two or three cases of their beer.”
The marijuana proponents said they hope isn’t lost on Hickenlooper’s Amendment 64 task force appointed to give regulatory recommendations to the General Assembly.
The proponents point out that even Laura Harris, the head of Department of Revenue Medical Marijuana Enforcement Division, sees the error in overregulation as discussed in a recent article. “The agency has been beset by money woes and had to cut many of its investigators,” Harris said. “Even if the agency had all the money it wanted, the state’s medical pot rules are a model of regulatory overreach, too cumbersome and expensive to enforce.”
For more information or if you wish to run a similar initiative in your town, Rico Colibri invites you to email him at .