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Colorado lawmakers debate tighter marijuana laws

8:54 PM, Feb 5, 2014   |    comments
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DENVER - On Thursday, state lawmakers will hold a hearing on the first in a series of bills aimed at adjusting the laws that regulate legalized marijuana in Colorado.

State lawmakers passed hundreds of pages of new laws to regulate marijuana before legal sales started this year, with a general desire to regulate pot like alcohol.

But, they missed some things last year.

"If you present a fake ID at a liquor store, try to buy alcohol, the liquor store has the authority to seize the fake ID and hold you for a few minutes while they call the police," Rep. Daniel Kagan (D-Cherry Hills Village) said. "Not so in marijuana, and that struck me as illogical and wrong."

Kagan wants to give pot shops that same power.

His bill (HB 1122) also toughens the penalty for stores that sell pot to minors, to match penalties for selling alcohol to people under 21.

"I have teenage children and I think one of the things that those who supported marijuana legalization strongly believed, as I do, that this isn't for kids," Kagan said.

Marijuana sold legally has to come in childproof packaging, except for one kind. Edible products sold as medical pot ended up not being covered by that law, another thing Kagan's bill would change.

Members of both pro and anti-marijuana groups told 9NEWS that they support Kagan's proposals.

Later this month lawmakers will debate whether to send some of Colorado's marijuana tax money to police in other states.

Rep. Amy Stephens (R-Monument) wants Colorado to offer grants to law enforcement in neighboring states, who can document an increased workload to control marijuana illegally leaving Colorado.

"This isn't just a giveaway," Stephens said. "This is a thoughtful approach to say, 'yes, our neighbors are probably having a stress over some of the drug trafficking or increased traffic going on.'"

The Department of Justice has made clear that one of its top priorities is preventing the drug from crossing state lines.

HB 1209, sponsored by Stephens, is scheduled for a hearing on Feb. 20.

Stephens stresses that the Colorado state patrol would get priority applying for those grants, her intention is to allow other states to receive the grants if there's money left over after Colorado pays for regulating the drug within its own borders.

Lawmakers will also hear SB 129 this year that would tweak criminal statues on marijuana, including the open container law.

Another bill is aimed at measuring the impact legalization of pot has on local governments. HB 1196 would create a task force for that purpose.

(KUSA-TV © 2014 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)

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