Pot Goes LegitSubmitted by legalizeliberty on Mon, 10/14/2013 - 16:42
What the end of prohibition looks like in Colorado
By Jacob Sullum
"What we need," said Norton Arbelaez, a thirtysomething attorney and businessman in a suit and tie, "is a vertically integrated, closed-loop regulatory framework." The bureaucrats, politicians, and entrepreneurs crowding the conference room took notes, watched his PowerPoint slides, and furrowed their brows. This was the fourth meeting of a working group set up by a task force appointed by the governor of Colorado, and if you happened to wander by you would think it sounded as dull as the average subcommittee session
Until you discerned the subject of the meeting. "We will be, and are, the cannabis industry in Colorado," Arbelaez proclaimed. "It is our necks that are on the line."
Last November, 75 years after Congress enacted national marijuana prohibition, voters in Colorado and Washington decided to opt out. After Coloradans approved Amendment 64, which legalized the production, possession, and distribution of marijuana for recreational use, Gov. John Hickenlooper appointed the Amendment 64 Implementation Task Force to advise state legislators on how to regulate the nascent cannabis industry, which for years had served patients under Colorado's medical marijuana law but now was authorized to supply any adult 21 or older. And as in all sorts of industries, the incumbents were trying to write the rules in their favor.
"We need to maintain the edifice of what continues to work in Colorado," said Arbelaez, who co-owns two medical marijuana dispensaries in Denver and serves on the board of the Medical Marijuana Industry Group.