Monday, September 30, 2013

The A64 Chronicles

Location: Nederland, CO 80466, USA
The hippie sub-culture has been around the Greater Nederland Area since the 1960's or 1970's. Remnants of these social values can still be seen in our small mountain town, known for its great music scene and throw-back hippie community. These values are rooted in nature, the environment, love, community, civil rights, music, and of course marijuana.

On August 20, 2013 the Nederland Board of Trustees (BOT) passed Ordinance 720, Amending Chapter 6 et al., of the Nederland Municipal Code by the Addition of a new Article XI, to be entitled "Regulation of Marijuana". Ned is quite possibly the first town in America to pass such an ordinance.

Even though it was the Daily Camera's front page story (Trustees to Consider Ordinance Tuesday) the actual passing of the ordinance turned out to be fairly low key. The BOT meeting was not overly crowded – just a few people making comments on the remaining tweaks to the ordinance. We have been discussing the issue for a long time, it was well thought through, and ultimately we came up with a plan that made sense for our entire community.

Front page story before the board meeting
Afterward, the Boulder Weekly ran this story: Colorado Readies Retail Regulations While Feds Dither.

It started the article with our passing of the ordinance, but went on to assume that the federal government was opposed to cannabis law reform, which turned out to be an incorrect assumption.

As long as states that legalize marijuana develop, and actively and effectively implement distribution restrictions that avoid the federal governments eight high priority areas, the Department of Justice (DOJ) will not step in according to this memo to all US Attorneys General. Colorado Attorney General John Suthers said (in this statement) the ruling was pretty much what he expected and wondered why it took so long.

The federal enforcement priorities include preventing:
  • Marijuana distribution to minors
  • Funneling of revenues to criminal groups including gangs and cartels
  • The transport or diversion of marijuana to states where it remains illegal
  • Marijuana enterprises from using state laws as cover for trafficking of other illegal drugs
  • Violence and the use of firearms in the cultivation or distribution of marijuana
  • Drugged driving and the exacerbation of other adverse public health issues associated with marijuana usage
  • The growing of marijuana on public lands to protect public safety
  • Marijuana possession or use on federal property

How did we get to this low-key, uneventful, resolution?

Here is a chronological listing of a few articles describing some of the events and actions that led up to regulating retail marijuana in Nederland, which I call the "A64 Chronicles":

In 2010-2011, the Town revised our town code to allow Medical Marijuana Dispensaries.

Two years later, Coloradans passed Constitutional Amendment 64 in November, 2012.
"Shall there be an amendment to the Colorado constitution concerning marijuana, and, in connection therewith, providing for the regulation of marijuana; permitting a person twenty-one years of age or older to consume or possess limited amounts of marijuana; providing for the licensing of cultivation facilities, product manufacturing facilities, testing facilities, and retail stores; permitting local governments to regulate or prohibit such facilities; requiring the general assembly to enact an excise tax to be levied upon wholesale sales of marijuana; requiring that the first $40 million in revenue raised annually by such tax be credited to the public school capital construction assistance fund; and requiring the general assembly to enact legislation governing the cultivation, processing, and sale of industrial hemp?"
Even before the election took place, reporters from Amsterdam, stopped in Nederland

The governor signed the amendment, and created a task force on the implementation of A64. Besides legislators, attorney general and law enforcement, the governor's task force included several advocates for marijuana consumers, cultivators, and the proponents of the amendment itself. The top marijuana experts in the state, if you will.

A few people that were left off the list, started their own "shadow task force". The self-proclaimed leader of the shadow group, moved to Nederland (according to the Daily Camera) and wrote his own local laws for our town as a favor. He issued a press release in Westword Magazine on behalf of the shadow group and it was picked up in a couple of media outlets.
[Related Story: Taking the Bait – The Media Loves a Good Marijuana Story]
The board of trustees set up a Mayor's Task Force on A64 implementation and Westword began following the story. Click here for: Politics of Pot and Chickens in Nederland – Westword Magazine

The governor's Amendment 64 Implementation Task Force, concluded its work and released its recommendations. Click here for: Retail Marijuana: Governor's Task Force concludes; Mayor's Task Force Begins. The next phase of information was from the state legislature, from none other than, the 'joint committee', as stated in this Denver Post Article.

The legislative process wasn't pretty, but here is an explanation: Retail Marijuana and Sausages.

To make things more complicated than they needed to be, this information was in stark contrast to the Westword article: Marijuana: Nederland's Town Rules Would Allow On-Site Pot Consumption Designed for Tourists, but Westword, did not contact Town Hall, and did not contact myself or Trustee Fiori. They were referencing their own articles as source material, so misinformation spread.

Within a few months, the state approved their regulations, Nederland had a thorough process, passed our ordinance, and the U.S. Department of Justice informed us that they will allow us to enforce our own distribution restrictions as long as we comply with eight federal enforcement priorities.
[Related ArticleNed's Retail Marijuana Laws featured in Boulder Magazine]
On January 21, 2014, the Nederland Board of Trustees (BOT) approved the first marijuana retail store license in Boulder County. It was fairly uneventful and took 15 minutes. Here is how the Boulder Daily Camera Reported the story: Nederland Approves Boulder County's First Recreational Pot Store.

[Here is a Video Valediction] This is Jimi Hendrix playing the blues on a 12 string acoustic guitar. [What is a Video Valediction?]
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