Summit County shrugs as guv signs pot amendment into law
Ryan Summerlin December 11, 2012
Busting misdemeanor marijuana offenses has never topped Summit County Sheriff John Minor’s list of priorities.
So Gov. Hickenlooper’s executive order Monday officially making marijuana possession and consumption legal for adults over 21 won’t drastically change his law-enforcement policies, at least in the short-term.
“It’s still a low priority for us, and we’ll probably ramp it down even further,” Minor said. “Keep it out of sight, out of mind. Don’t bring attention to yourselves.”
The same goes for Breckenridge, where voters approved a measure in 2009 decriminalizing cannabis.
“This isn’t going to impact us as greatly as it may other jurisdictions,” Breckenridge Police Department spokeswoman Kim Stremel said.
When voters gave the constitutional Amendment 64 the green light Nov. 6, Summit County didn’t have a single marijuana possession case pending with the district attorney’s office.
But, for other departments, the issue is more complicated, placing them at the heart of a still-unresolved conflict between state and federal law. The confusion is further compacted by the fact that the district attorney’s office is currently in transition, as outgoing DA Mark Hurlbert prepares to turn the reins over to prosecutor-elect Bruce Brown.
“I really don’t have a clear path yet,” Dillon police chief Steve Neumeyer said. “There’re so many pieces not in place. … It’s really peculiar because the federal government is saying it’s illegal, the state government is saying it’s not, and we have statutes on the books which are still active.”
Neumeyer said, for now, his force will likely take note of new offenses and return to them later when the waters are less murky.
Hickenlooper signed an executive order Monday that made an official declaration of the vote and formally added Amendment 64 to the Colorado Constitution. It makes the personal use, possession and limited home-growing of marijuana legal under Colorado law.
“Voters were loud and clear on Election Day,” Hickenlooper stated in a release Monday. “We will begin working immediately with the General Assembly and state agencies to implement Amendment 64.”
But the governor failed to include law- enforcement agencies in a state task force charged with making recommendations to lawmakers to help implement marijuana regulations next year.
“We’re going to have a concern about that,” said Minor, who noted that officials who enforce state law might be at risk of federal prosecution.
Hickenlooper sent a letter to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder asking for clarification on the federal position on Colorado’s new law, but there has been no response so far, according to the governor’s release.
The first task force meeting will be held at noon Monday at the Department of Revenue and Gaming Conference Room. It will be open to the public.