As the legalization of recreational marijuana becomes a reality for Coloradans, a lot of legal questions remain up in the air.
According to Brian Vicente, co-director of the Yes on 64 campaign, it’s all part of taking things one step at a time, but some things, such as employers’ rights, are important for people to understand.
“Employers rights aren’t changed by Amendment 64,” Vicente cautioned. “They retain the right to hire and fire employees for whatever reasons they want, and that could include off-site use of marijuana.
“Our hope is that employers will in fact adopt a more common-sense policy and not fire people who use marijuana on the weekend and then come to work Monday clearly not under the influence. Ultimately, employers have the right to do what they want, though.”
And while some proponents of the amendment already have one hand on the Cheetos bag and one on the Goldfish, Gov. John Hickenlooper is not expected to sign the amendment into law until Dec. 6.
“The governor has stated that he will try to enforce the will of the voters, but he has also said he is more interested in hearing what the federal government has to say than doing what the people of our state have told him to do,” Vicente said. “That’s concerning to us, but at the end of the day, hopefully he will remember that he works for the voters of Colorado.”
Vicente said the federal government had been relatively quiet on the matter since the election. He added that federal officials had previously stated that they would probably treat Amendment 64 and the new-look retail market the way they’ve treated medical marijuana, meaning as long as people are following state rules, they likely won’t interfere.
Jeff Dorschner, spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Denver, stated that the Justice Department’s enforcement of the Controlled Substances Act remains unchanged and that marijuana is still considered a Schedule I controlled substance, but that the agency is reviewing the ballot initiative.
Other law enforcement representatives have not shied away from the topic.
“I am disappointed at the outcome of the vote,” said Douglas County Sheriff David Weaver. “I still believe this is bad for Colorado and for Douglas County residents. With that being said, I am sworn to uphold the Constitution and will enforce the law. As of today we do not know what that law will look like.”
For those voters who plan on partaking in the use of recreational marijuana, there will be a gray period until legislative regulations are in places, allowing pot shops to open their doors sometime around January 2014.
“In the interim period between now and 2014, it remains illegal for people to sell marijuana, back and forth,” Vicente said. “The mechanism would be that adults are allowed to cultivate, grow their own, or share with a friend. … That’s just part of the process moving toward more common-sense drug policy. We have to take it step by step, but it’s important for people to know that it remains illegal.”