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Compromise looms to keep pot regulation bill alive

8:53 PM, Apr 24, 2013   |    comments
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DENVER - After public criticism from Colorado's police chiefs and sheriffs, marijuana advocates say a tentative deal has been struck to move forward on a bill that will decide how legal sales of the drug will be regulated.

Under Amendment 64, legal sales of pot in Colorado are scheduled to begin Jan. 1, 2014. Without a state regulatory structure, the amendment allows sales to be regulated at the local level, which could create a patchwork of marijuana rules across the state.

A task force appointed by Gov. John Hickenlooper recommended that marijuana businesses be vertically integrated, meaning that each step in the process should be conducted under common ownership from "seed to sale."

It also recommended a one-year window in which existing medical marijuana businesses would have the exclusive ability to obtain a license. In part, these provisions were designed to control the scale of the marijuana business while the regulatory structure is created.

When a legislative supercommittee tossed out vertical integration as a requirement, law enforcement groups objected over concerns that out-of-state investors could pour in to Colorado, making the marijuana business unmanageable.

Multiple sources confirm to 9NEWS a late-night meeeting on Monday led to a compromise that is expected to get the regulation bill, HB 1317, through its first test in the House state affairs committee.

The deal would give medical pot shops a nine-month exclusive window in which they must conduct business under a vertically integrated model. Beginning in October 2014, licenses could be obtained by newcomers to the marijuana business, which will not be required to be vertically integrated.

That would allow some companies to focus on growing the drug and others to focus on retail.

As of Tuesday morning, no deal had been reached on whether to restrict investment in marijuana businesses by people out of state, sources tell 9NEWS.

Police chiefs and sheriffs were upset that a DUI limit for marijuana died in a Senate committee earlier this week.

Minority Leader Mark Waller said he's all but certain the DUI limit will be resurrected.

"There are three or four bills we can amend that on to," said Waller. "I think we'll attach it to all of them."

It's unclear whether the effort to re-try DUI limits would succeed in the Senate, without being assigned to a different committee.

(KUSA-TV © 2013 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)

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