Amendment 64: Business organizations ask feds to clamp down on Colorado marijuana measure
The arguments from this group are noteworthy because, unlike some of the criticisms and concerns around the policy in the weeks since its passage, this call to the federal government directly asks for agencies to supersede the change to law that voters approved on election day.
In the plea to Holder, the coalition notes that in 2010, his office took a "firm and aggressive position opposing California's Proposition 19," a cannabis measure with similarities to A64. In that letter, also included below, Holder wrote that the Department of Justice remained committed to enforcing federal laws against marijuana use regardless of the passage of this or similar measures. Specifically, the letter noted that the department would "vigorously enforce the CSA against those individuals and organisations that possess, manufacture, or distribute marijuana for recreational use, even if such activities are permitted under state law."
Photo by Brandon Marshall Election night watch party for Amendment 64.
The reason why the current uncertainty around enforcement is hurtful to businesses, the letter argues, is the potential for conflicts once the law officially goes into effect with employees of companies then legally possessing and consuming marijuana.
The letter asks the DOJ for clarity by the end of the year.
Sandra Hagen Solin, who heads the Northern Colorado Legislative Alliance, the public policy arm of several chambers of commerce and economic development corporations, says federal enforcement seems like the best way to clarify discrepancies.
"We understand the will of the voters. Despite the will of the voters, business is still left with uncertainty," she says. "But we're also left with increased costs for business."
Solin says she expects that insurance rates and workers' compensation costs will rise if A64 is implemented and the feds decide to stay out of the way.
"There's just a host of concerns beyond our own liability," she says. "Federal law makes it very clear that the use of marijuana is illegal, and we believe that makes it very clear that consequently, we won't have impaired individuals and employees coming to work sites. That provides us some assurance that our employees will be productive and be clear of mind."
She adds, "The business community respects what the voters have done.... We ask that they respect how business has to work within the confines of Amendment 64.... It's a two-way street."
Whatever happens, she says, the coalition will seek solutions to the problems they foresee -- whether the federal government chooses enforcement or not.
"We recognize that the voters have spoken...and that there's a strong possibility that the feds won't enforce the law," she says, adding, "There's just so much gray.... We have to work through each one of these questions to determine what our appropriate answer should be."
Continue for the full letters, including lists of all the supporting organizations.