Marijuana: Tamra Ward, repping employers on task force, says there's no "conflict of interest"
Yesterday, the Task Force on the Implementation of Amendment 64, charged with researching the many unanswered questions about the legalization of marijuana in Colorado, met for the first time. But not before a marijuana activist objected to the involvement of Tamra Ward, who had signed onto a letter urging the feds to override Colorado's new law. But after the meeting, Ward told us that there's no conflict.
Since the passage last month of Colorado's Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol measure, which legalizes small amounts of recreational marijuana for adults, there has been much debate about how the contradictions between federal law and the state's new law are going to play out.
Supporters and opponents alike have said they want clarity from the president and the Justice Department on what the feds are going to do, including whether they are going to actively enforce laws against marijuana use in Colorado. And there's still a lot of uncertainty, even though Obama said last week that targeting recreational users is not a priority.
Some groups concerned about 64 have gone beyond asking for clarity -- saying that they think the best kind of clarity would be the federal government cracking down on Colorado's new law and enforcing federal policy, which maintains that pot is illegal.
Earlier this month, a coalition of business groups sent federal officials a letter, urging the enforcement of the Controlled Substances Act in Colorado, essentially asking the feds to override 64.
Tamra Ward, president and CEO of Colorado Concern, a business alliance group, signed on to that letter. Ward has also been appointed to the governor's task force, which he announced last week when he officially signed 64 into law.
Just before the meeting began, we published a post about the concerns of Mark Slaugh, membership director of the Colorado Springs Medical Cannabis Council, who says that Ward should not be on the task force since her signature on that letter shows that she essentially opposes implementation.
At the meeting, in fact, the co-chairs pointed out several times that the task force is charged with coming up with clear recommendations on implementation -- and its members were not there to debate the merits of legalization or of Amendment 64. And the A64 representative on the task force asked the group not to use the fear of federal enforcement as a tactic to avoid coming up with good policy advice on pushing forward with the measure.
After the lengthy event ended, we asked Ward for her take on the activist's complaints. She told us she hasn't seen Slaugh's letter, but said she is not concerned about any potential conflict of interest and recognizes her duties on the task force.
Continue for our interview with Tamra Ward.