Amendment 64: Warnings from U.S. Attorney, State Patrol, CU boss as measure becomes law
Yesterday, Governor John Hickenlooper quietly signed Amendment 64. But the reaction from major players who oppose the new pot law has been considerably louder. U.S. Attorney John Walsh and the Colorado State Patrol both issued terse warnings calculated to harsh the buzzes of celebrants. And a prior message from CU president Bruce Benson is even more negative, claiming that A64 may cost the university a billion dollars.
Walsh is among the most closely watched amendment observers. After all, he represents the Justice Department, whose overseer, Attorney General Eric Holder, could attempt to block the retail provisions of the measure. Before yesterday, though, his sole comments on the act's passage were three sentences released after voters approved it in November. That statement reads:
The Department of Justice's enforcement of the Controlled Substances Act remains unchanged. In enacting the Controlled Substances Act, Congress determined that marijuana is a Schedule I controlled substance. We are reviewing the ballot initiative and have no additional comment at this time.Then, a few hours after Hickenlooper's office unveiled a proclamation making Amendment 64 legal, Walsh broke his silence, albeit in a manner that expands on his previous remarks in only minor ways. The new comment reads:
The Department of Justice is reviewing the legalization initiatives recently passed in Colorado and Washington state. The Department's responsibility to enforce the Controlled Substances Act remains unchanged. Neither States nor the Executive branch can nullify a statute passed by Congress. In enacting the Controlled Substances Act, Congress determined that marijuana is a Schedule I controlled substance. Regardless of any changes in state law, including the change that will go into effect on December 10th in Colorado, growing, selling or possessing any amount of marijuana remains illegal under federal law. Members of the public are also advised to remember that it remains against federal law to bring any amount of marijuana onto federal property, including all federal buildings, national parks and forests, military installations, and courthouses.If this language sounds familiar, it should. Around 90 percent of the text duplicates lines from a statement released by Jenny Durkan, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Washington, just before Washington state's marijuana-related Initiative 502 became law on December 6.
Also weighing in after the signing was the Colorado State Patrol, whose chief, Colonel James Wolfinbarger, apparently anticipates a rash of stoned drivers hitting the road now that Amendment 64 has been enshrined in the state constitution. Hence, the following release, issued under the subject line "Driving Under the Influence of Marijuana is Still Illegal." Here it is:
Colonel James Wolfinbarger.
As Amendment 64 is added to The Colorado Constitution by proclamation of Governor Hickenlooper, The Colorado State Patrol would like to remind motorists that if you chose to consume marijuana and make the decision to drive that you are taking a huge risk.Still, these statements are restrained in comparison to one CU's Benson unleashed a short time before A64 became official.
"Drivers must realize that if you are stopped by law enforcement officials and it is determined that your ability to operate a motor vehicle has been affected to the slightest degree by drugs or alcohol or both, you may be arrested and subjected to prosecution under Colorado's DUI/DUID laws," said Colonel James Wolfinbarger, Chief of the Colorado State Patrol. "It is imperative that everyone takes responsibility for public safety when driving on Colorado's highways."
Make a choice to designate a sober driver prior to celebrating this holiday season.
Continue to read about Bruce Benson and his Amendment 64 statement.