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If you live near Denver, whether or not you live or work within its city limits, you should care about how Denver implements recreational marijuana sales …
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If you live near Denver, whether or not you live or work within its city limits, you should care about how Denver implements recreational marijuana sales permitted by Amendment 64.
It’s expected that Denver will be the epicenter of recreational marijuana sales in Colorado, with half or more of all sales statewide. Like pot smoke wafting through the air, the impacts of Denver’s recreational marijuana sales will spread across the entire metro area.
— Children will likely have more access to pot, even though Amendment 64 explicitly prohibits use by those under 21. Regardless of what you think about adults using marijuana, the medical research is clear that pot harms growing adolescent brains.
— As an economic, entertainment and tourism hub, Denver’s handling of recreational marijuana sales will have far-reaching impacts on the entire metro area. News stories with a Denver dateline reflect on the entire metro area and send clear messages – good or bad – to the rest of the world.
The Denver City Council has approved an ordinance to begin licensing recreational marijuana stores as early as Oct. 1.
Will the new recreational marijuana ordinance, like the ordinance for medical marijuana, remain in many cases unenforced?
Denver doesn’t even know the exact count of medical marijuana establishments operating within its borders.
Council members guess the number to be close to 300, but they have no idea. However, we do know it is getting in the hands of our kids. With Denver and the rest of Colorado reporting some of the highest youth marijuana use rates in the nation.
While Denver moves full speed ahead with Big Marijuana commercialization and production, an overwhelming majority of Colorado cities and counties have prudently chosen to either opt out completely, or delay commercialization until important uncertainties have been resolved. This is an option every Colorado municipality is afforded under Amendment 64, an important provision proponents felt necessary to include in the Constitutional Amendment to ensure its passage.
The number of uncertainties are endless. Chief among them remains: Where will money to cover the most basic levels of regulation and enforcement come from?
This is ironic, since last fall, voters were promised tons of revenues for our state and our schools .
Most voters have no idea the language used in Amendment 64 was crafted in a way that the taxes could not be captured without another vote of the people.
But this time there won’t be any assurances that the tax levels on the November ballot will begin to cover the costs of regulating a highly complex industry, that brings potentially hefty legal and financial risks.
The marijuana industry aggressively fought to whittle down these taxes during the legislative session and now some pot proponents are leading the fight against their approval.
These are some of the people who placed a billboard promoting marijuana as a healthy choice outside of Sports Authority Field around the Bronco’s season opener where they knew that thousands of kids would see it. And who brazenly handed out free unpackaged, unlabeled, untaxed pot and smoked it openly and in public right outside of the of the offices of the Mayor, the Governor and our state legislators?
But hey, the marijuana industry has gotten almost everything they’ve wanted without having to follow any of the rules. So, why shouldn’t they have the audacity to snub their noses in all of our faces? Why shouldn’t they declare victory and make it clear who is NOW calling the shots?
Right now, the outcome is up to us — the end of this story hasn’t yet been written.
Do we stand up for our kids, our cities, and our state? Or do shrink and take the path of least resistance?
Do we ask, “What can Denver and our state do to make life easier for the marijuana industry? Or do we start asking, “How do we implement Amendment 64 in a way that doesn’t compromise the health of our children, communities, and the future of our state?”
Diane Carlson is a founding leader of Smart Colorado and co-founder of Bravetracks.org
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