With law-enforcement agencies in Colorado thrust into a quandary with the passage of Amendment 64, some cities have imposed moratoriums while others are drafting ordinances.
At issue is the conflict between the state and the federal government, under which marijuana, a Schedule 1 substance, is illegal.
To date, Sheriff Mike Ensminger and Teller County commissioners Bill Buckhanan, Jim Ignatius and Dave Paul are working on an ordinance addressing the amendment. “The ordinance will give us the authority to enforce the contents and the elements of what Amendment 64 says,” Ensminger said.
Under the amendment, recreational marijuana is legal for persons 21 and over to possess up to one ounce of marijuana.
While state law is effective for persons caught with more than an ounce of marijuana, Ensminger is concerned with people who have less than an ounce, use marijuana in a public place and drive while smoking or ingesting the drug, he said. “We can't enforce any of this unless we have a statute,” Ensminger said. “We need an ordinance that says it's legal to possess an ounce.”
Teller County is one of several counties drafting an ordinance, Ensminger said. “Right now people cannot use marijuana in public, similar to the open-container laws,” he added.
Because of the THC (the stimulant in marijuana) content as well as the increased strength of today's marijuana, Ensminger is concerned about the after-effects of the drug. “I can't get over the fact that marijuana is a Schedule I drug and the FDA is not going to take the drug off the list,” he said. “We don't know eliminate THC from our bodies as we do other drugs. That's what makes marijuana dangerous.”
Nonetheless, Ensminger is pushing for quick action on the part of the state legislators, to give guidance to counties struggling with the conflict between state and the federal government. “We're hoping that the legislators will be quick with their response, unlike they were with medical marijuana,” he said.