Between Dec. 10, when Gov. John Hickenlooper created the task force, and Feb. 28, the group was to develop proposed regulations for a recreational marijuana industry unlike any in the planet’s history. But, by the close of its last meeting sometime Thursday evening, the task force will have churned through roughly 100 different issues and put forth dozens of recommended policies.
“This is a big undertaking,” Jack Finlaw, a lawyer for Hickenlooper and one of the task force’s co-chairs, said at the group’s first meeting. “We are creating ideas and vetting issues that I hope will be models around the country.”
Colorado voters legalized limited possession and retail sales of marijuana in November, creating the need to figure out exactly how that will work.
The task force’s recommendations range from the fairly mild — for instance, encouraging state officials to urge the federal government to ease banking prohibitions for marijuana businesses — to the highly controversial — such as one that would allow employers to fire workers for off-the-job marijuana use.
The task force has endorsed efforts to limit stoned driving and declined to block marijuana sales to out-of-state residents, opening the door for pot tourism to Colorado. It has suggested that marijuana stores be restricted in where and how they can advertise. It has proposed that all marijuana products be placed into child-resistant packaging at the point of sale.
Many of the recommended regulations come from Colorado’s medical-marijuana business laws. Recreational pot shops, for instance, would have to grow most of what they sell, as medical-marijuana dispensaries must. Dispensaries would also have an exclusive one-year window to apply for recreational marijuana store licenses.
The task force still has a handful of proposals to decide on Thursday. Topics up for discussion include taxes and licensing fees for marijuana stores, changes to criminal laws to accommodate marijuana legalization and regulations on pot serving sizes. The task force expects to present a report to the legislature in early March. Lawmakers will then take the recommendations and decide whether to make them law.
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