Busy day for policy on pot in Colorado

6:44 PM, Feb 27, 2012   |    comments
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A federal crackdown on medical marijuana, a ballot question to legalize recreational pot, and a bill that would establish DUI standards for marijuana all made headlines in the same day.

US ATTORNEY DEADLINE

Monday was a deadline set by US Attorney John Walsh for 23 medical marijuana dispensaries to shut down. All 23 are within 1,000 feet of a school.

In an earlier interview with 9NEWS, Walsh made it clear those which didn't shut down would be raided.

"We will be taking action, asset forfeiture action, with respect to any of the properties that don't shut down, yes," he said.

Medical marijuana advocates tell 9NEWS they believe all 23 decided to close down.

The US Attorney's office would not confirm that, nor would they say whether there will be any raids.

Walsh promised to go after more dispensaries in the future because pot is illegal under federal law.

RECREATIONAL POT TO APPEAR ON BALLOT

A ballot question to legalize and tax marijuana for recreational use qualified for this November's ballot.

 

 

 

 

 

Unlike the question that failed in 2006, Initiative 30 would create an excise tax on wholesale pot in addition to the sales tax paid by the end user.

Another key difference is that this time it's on the ballot in a presidential election.

"This is a whole different ballgame," Mason Tvert, a spokesperson for the ballot question, said. "This is a different initiative. This is a different year. The people of Colorado have come a very long way in their thinking on this."

MARIJUANA DUI LIMIT

Colorado's legislature held a hearing over where to draw the line for DUI when a driver is high.

It sounded like a science class at times, with both sides arguing over the 5 nanograms per milliliter of blood limit set in a bill sponsored by Sen. Steve King (R-Grand Junction).

That's a measure of THC, marijuana's active ingredient.

King argues it's about setting a level for use in criminal cases, just like .08 for blood alcohol content.

"It allows a jury, much like alcohol, to be able to say this person was beyond this level," King said.

Cordelia and Jeanette Cordova testified the man who killed their niece and her daughter in a head-on crash was punished to lightly under current law.

"They shouldn't get away with a four-year sentence for smoking marijuana and killing two innocent people," Jeanette Cordova said.

Opponents argue THC works differently than alcohol and can show up on tests even after a user has sobered up.

"The bottom line is you are guaranteeing the conviction of innocent people," attorney Sean McAllister said.

He argued science simply doesn't have a good standard yet for testing how high a driver is.

Opponents did concede that driving while high on pot is dangerous, saying it's best to wait at least four hours after consuming marijuana before getting behind the wheel.

(KUSA-TV © 2012 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)

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