Amendment 64: If it's a disaster, other states won't move to legalize pot, says GOP's Ryan Call
In discussions of legalization, opponents -- including high-profile officials from both parties -- worried about the impacts on teenagers , even though marijuana is still illegal for underage Coloradans, as well as the effect on businesses and the state's reputation.
Call said he wants to see Colorado politicians consider legislation that allows local jurisdictions to regulate legal marijuana as they see fit.
Photo by Brandon Marshall An Amendment 64 supporter on election day in Colorado.
"I...hope that our lawmakers in the state legislature are sensitive to local sensibilities," he stated, noting that municipalities should be able to control this kind of activity through zoning laws, similar to how so-called home-rule cities have been able to enact their own regulations of medical marijuana dispensaries. He cited limitations around schools as an example.
As we've noted, legislation is required to establish how retail shops for recreational marijuana could actually be established and that wouldn't happen until late 2013 or early 2014. Moreover, Amendment 64 allows local communities to opt out of allowing retail sales outlets.
"This will require some changes to federal legislation if we're going to reconcile what the voters in Colorado...have chosen," Call added. "I'm grateful for the leadership that Mike Coffman and others are taking to try to bring this to a debate and discussion at the federal level."
Call pointed out that while a majority of Colorado residents favored 64, many others did not. (Results from the Secretary of State's office show that 55.32 percent voted yes and 44.68 percent voted no).
"Our job is to honor and recognize the will of the voters. But it's also important to recognize a significant percentage of our voters here in Colorado expressed significant concerns about this kind of a dramatic change," Call said. "And Colorado now finds itself with one of the most...progressive...legalization statutes. It will require a significant amount of policy-making work at the state legislative level and local levels to figure out how to deal with the...negative impacts on the business climate and kids."
Residents will ask for these restrictions, he said.
"It really has to happen and I think that the voters, frankly, will demand it, because there's one thing to talk about it...in the abstract sense. Should marijuana be legalized? But there's also a very practical question: What is going to be the impact if we have marijuana being sold at every corner 7-Eleven?" he said.
He said he is worried about a rise in youth pot smoking. Supporters have argued that legalization will actually help law enforcement regulate underage smoking, which remains illegal.
Call noted that marijuana is especially harmful to the cognitive development of adolescents.
"That is something that I'm sure we're going to see an increase in," he said, "and that's problematic if we're talking about trying to help equip the next generation with the tools to compete and succeed.
"Part of the challenge is having it also hard-wired in the state constitution...because it makes it more difficult for legislators and policymakers to address what are a lot of unanswered questions."
More from our Marijuana archive: "Marijuana: Is Denver adding charges to keep minor pot cases alive after Amendment 64?"