Amendment 64 public information session on campus

Jan. 28, 2013

Eleanor Skelton
[email protected]

Confusion about interpreting the impact of Amendment 64 is prevalent in both El Paso County and on campus.

The UCCS chapters of the Young Americans for Liberty and Students for Sensible Drug Policy sponsored a public information session on Jan. 15 concerning A64 at the Penrose branch of the Pikes Peak Library District downtown.

Raul Perez, the president of Students for Sensible Drug Policy, opened the session with prepared questions for three panelists – Mark Siaugh, the CEO of iComply, Loring Wirbel, the chair of Pikes Peak ACLU, and Jason Lauve, the publisher of CHNM and “long-time hemp activist.”

One of the main issues discussed, with which the meeting opened, was the question of how legalized marijuana would be integrated into the economic system. Perez began with what he described as “the question I’m sure everyone is asking – what will the regulation and sales of cannabis look like?”

“What can we expect [the] retail shops to look like? Will they sell whole buds, concentrates?” Perez said. He also asked the panelists about licensure for the shops and for bars.

“The governor, shortly after the passage of Amendment 64, formulated the Amendment 64 task force,” Siaugh responded. “This is a group of experts that have come across from all fields and over the spectrum from staunch prohibitionists to advocates and business owners,” he said.

“They have about a two-month deadline to come up with various issues that they’re going to be tackling,” he added.

Siaugh indicated that the group will be addressing criminal law and prosecution, licensure and labeling standards, and enforcing that only those of age could obtain cannabis.

“When you go into a liquor store, you look for a bottle on the shelf, [and] that proof tells you how strong that bottle is,” Siaugh said. “We need similar standards with cannabis and testing to make sure you know exactly what’s in the product every time you purchase it.”

He said that the recommendations would be formalized and submitted to Colorado lawmakers to be written into legislation by July 1.

Wirbel talked on the micro and macroeconomic impacts of the passage of the law.

“Dispensaries will have kind of like a first right of refusal on all this, which means that larger corporate liquor store environments won’t necessarily be able to dominate the market,” Wirbel said. “There are so many aspects to the industry.”

Wirbel said the existing hemp industry is structured toward local markets, leading to smaller businesses and more dedicated business. “[It] doesn’t mean the corporate chain can’t move in and try to squeeze something out,” Wirbel said.

As predicted, Lauve did move the conversation in the direction of the industry and how products may be sold.

“Obviously, there are a lot of products that are directed more towards the medical use, but we are starting to see overlap,” he said.

“For example, the e-pen, those vaporizers. Originally, that was really for the medical patient that needed that for constant use … but we see that also applies to social user,” Lauve said. “There are some lotions, creams for first aid and arthritis which you’ll probably see migrate more towards the medical establishments.”

The panelists continued with more of Perez’s questions and took questions from the audience at the end of the session, including UCCS students, marijuana growers and landlords.