DENVER - The passage of Amendment 64 by nearly 55 percent of Colorado voters allows adults to purchase up to one ounce of marijuana at regulated retail outlets. The measure is expected to take effect when the final vote is certified sometime before the end of the year.
The amendment, however, does not change existing University of Colorado campus policies that prohibit the possession, use and distribution of the drug by students, employees and all other visitors on university properties.
Following is question-and-answer article that details aspects of the measure, how it affects university policies and how the federal government may respond to the new amendment.
The information was prepared by the University of Colorado, Office of University Counsel:
Q. In a nutshell, what does this amendment do?
A. The amendment makes the personal use, possession, and limited home growing of marijuana legal for adults 21 years of age and older. The amendment provides for the creation of a system of marijuana distribution comprised of cultivators, product manufacturers (such as for marijuana-infused baked goods), and retail establishments in which marijuana is regulated and taxed in a manner similar to alcohol. It also allows for the cultivation, processing, and sale of industrial hemp. The amendment does not create a fundamental constitutional right to possess marijuana.
Q. How does the amendment affect CU?
A. The amendment does not alter existing campus policies that prohibit the possession, use, and distribution of marijuana by students, employees, and all other visitors on university property. Nor does the amendment alter the Drug-Free Workplace Act of 1988 or the Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act Amendments of 1989, which require the university, as a recipient of federal funds, to take measures to combat the use of drugs and alcohol.
Relevant policies can be found here:
Q. When does the amendment go into effect?
A. The provisions of the constitutional amendment that exempt possession and personal use from criminal prosecution are self-executing and will take effect upon proclamation by the Governor or 30 days after the Secretary of State certifies the election results, which must occur by Dec. 6, 2012.
Additionally, the department of revenue must adopt health and safety regulations described in the amendment no later than July 1, 2013, and begin accepting and processing applications for licenses to operate marijuana establishments by Oct. 1, 2013.
Q. Will the federal government still be able to impose sanctions on the use of marijuana?
A. Yes. Federal law prohibits the use, possession, and sale of marijuana. The federal government may prosecute possession, use, and distribution of marijuana that is otherwise permissible under state law. Gov. Hickenlooper and Attorney General Suthers have asked the federal government to make its prosecutorial intentions known to Colorado citizens.
Q. Does the amendment allow adults to smoke marijuana in public?
A. No. While the law removes penalties for private adult consumption, it does not allow for the public consumption of marijuana. In addition, the amendment allows any entity that occupies, owns, or controls a property from prohibiting or otherwise regulating the possession, consumption, use, display, transfer, distribution, sale, transportation or growing of marijuana on that property.
Q. What will the tax rate on marijuana be?
A. The amendment directs the legislature to impose an excise tax upon marijuana at a rate not exceeding 15 percent prior to Jan. 1, 2017, and at a rate to be set by the General Assembly after that. The tax is to be levied upon marijuana sold or otherwise transferred by a marijuana cultivation facility to a marijuana product manufacturing facility or to a retail marijuana store. The amendment also directs the first $40 million in annual revenue to be credited to the Public School Capital Construction Assistance Fund.
The Attorney General has indicated that the tax rate established by the amendment may be in conflict with Article X, section 20, of the Colorado Constitution, the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (TABOR), which prescribes procedures for voter approval of new taxes. Legal questions over the imposition of the tax will need to be addressed by the General Assembly and then possibly by the courts.
Q. How does the amendment affect employers?
A. The amendment provides that employers are not required to permit or accommodate the use, consumption, possession, transfer, display, transportation, sale or growing of marijuana in the workplace, nor is it intended to affect the ability of employers to have policies restricting the use of marijuana by employees.
Q. How does the amendment affect local governments?
A. The amendment permits localities to enact ordinances or regulations — not in conflict with the amendment — that govern the time, place, manner, and number of marijuana establishment operations and that establish procedures and fees for the issuance, suspension and revocation of licenses. The amendment also permits localities to prohibit the operation of marijuana cultivation facilities, product manufacturing facilities, testing facilities and retail stores through the enactment of an ordinance or through an initiated or referred measure.
Q. Will a person be able to drive under the influence of marijuana?
A. No. It continues to be illegal to drive while impaired by marijuana. The Legislature retains the authority to develop new driving-related policies as it sees fit.
Q. Does the amendment change laws related to medical marijuana?
A. No. The amendment does not change existing medical marijuana laws for patients, caregivers and medical marijuana businesses. Medical marijuana is exempt from the excise tax placed on non-medical marijuana.