Marijuana officially legal in Colorado with stroke of governor's pen
December 10th, 2012
03:17 PM ET
10 years ago

Marijuana officially legal in Colorado with stroke of governor's pen

(CNN) – The recreational use of marijuana officially became legal Monday in Colorado, a little more than a month after voters in the state passed an amendment in favor of the measure.

"Voters were loud and clear on Election Day," Gov. John Hickenlooper, a Democrat, said in a statement, as he signed an executive order to officially legalize the personal use and limited growing of marijuana for those 21 or older. Amendment 64, as it's called, is now a part of the state's constitution.

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It is still illegal, however, to buy or sell marijuana "in any quantity" in Colorado or to consume it in public.

Hickenlooper, who opposed the amendment in the run-up to Election Day, announced the start of a 24-member task force that would "begin working immediately" to help the state navigate federal laws and establish how citizens can legally purchase and sell cannabis.

Washington, the other state to pass the legalization of marijuana in November, officially made the practice legal last week. It could take a year, however, before rules are set for growing and selling pot.

Shortly after Colorado voters passed the amendment on November 6, Hickenlooper cautioned it was too soon to "break out the Cheetos," saying state authorities must work to implement the new measure and prevent individuals from being prosecuted by the federal government, which classifies marijuana as an illegal substance.

In a statement Monday, U.S. Attorney John Walsh said that the Department of Justice is "reviewing" the initiatives passed in both states and that the department's "responsibility to enforce the Controlled Substances Act remains unchanged."

"Regardless of any changes in state law, including the change that will go into effect on December 10 in Colorado, growing, selling or possessing any amount of marijuana remains illegal under federal law," Walsh said.

When Hickenlooper opposed the amendment, he warned that legal marijuana use could "increase the number of children using drugs" and would "detract from efforts to make Colorado the healthiest state in the nation."

"It sends the wrong message to kids that drugs are OK," he added in a statement.

However, with the amendment, Hickenlooper said he would work to enforce the law and make sure that Colorado operates in accordance with the federal government.

"As we move forward now with implementation of Amendment 64, we will try to maintain as much flexibility as possible to accommodate the federal government's position on the amendment," Hickenlooper said.

The task force holds its first public meeting on December 17 and must report its recommendations to the governor's office no later than February 28.

- CNN's Jim Spellman and Alan Duke contributed to this report.

Filed under: 2012 • Colorado • John Hickenlooper
soundoff (24 Responses)
  1. Gurgyl

    Well, it is good, if you put restrictions–people want it. Now it is just like beer, wine, or cigar. I don't think people will care for it nor crave for it. It cuts drug money too.

    December 10, 2012 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  2. Rudy NYC

    My father used to tell me stories about "cuttin' grass", as he called it, when he was teenager. The term derived from how kids used to go out and "cut the grass/hemp" growing around people's fences to earn a few extra pennies.

    December 10, 2012 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  3. amazed reader

    Moving ahead full steam without prejudice or delay. The morons in our congress should be taking notes as they sit idly by and accomplish nothing session after session... Seems the Obama administration is letting Colorado be the laboratory our forefathers intended our states to be.

    December 10, 2012 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  4. skatealex2

    Thankfully. It's about time. Marijuana is safer than alcohol and tobbaco. Hopefully this will start to spread to many states.

    December 10, 2012 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  5. skatealex2

    Marijuana is safer than alcohol and tobbaco. It is good to see this happening. Hopefully it will start to spread to many other states as well.

    December 10, 2012 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  6. Patrick in Wisconsin

    It's gonna be a hazy night in Denver.

    December 10, 2012 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  7. Rift

    It's encouraging to see the governor move forward with this by adhering to the will of the people of Colorado. Times are changing and the Feds need to wake up and take note. I personally don't agree that this will encourage children to take up smoking weed anymore than the endless amount of beer ads or cigarette ads do. Especially when plastered all over the media. And marijuana is much less harmful than either. It's time to drop the stigmas that surround cannabis and move forward and away from prohibition and misinformation. Marijuana is here to stay, Legalize it, tax it, and progress.

    December 10, 2012 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  8. Wake up People!

    Come on Michigan, your turn. It passed here too, even though the republican governor and the Attorney General were against it. People really need to chill out when it comes to Mary Jane. It's not addicting and it is NOT a gateway drug. People that use and abuse hard drugs do it because they want to. I first smoked Mary Jane when I was 17 and I grew up around very hard drugs living in Detroit and I have NEVER EVER wanted to try anything else. I'd rather smoke a little weed to relax than get hooked on the killer prescription drugs.

    Three things that happen after smoking....
    1. Munchies
    2. Much better mood
    3. Very relaxed

    December 10, 2012 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |

    Viva puff puff give!

    December 10, 2012 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  10. Wake up People!

    @Southern Hottie. I was thinking the same thing, puff, puff, pass! We have to tell my brother in law that ALL THE TIME!

    I think I'll go home and watch Friday!!

    December 10, 2012 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  11. ajg13

    This is a great step forward in our times.. FINALLY... the rest of the country as well as canada should follow suit and a ton of revenue from sales and taxes can be collected. crime rates have the huge potential to decrease. and if both countries legalize it, cross border crime and trafficking will decrease (even though there's potential to traffick other drugs). When people show concern that legalization sends the message of "drugs being OK" to children, this concren is legit, however, there needs to be education about marijuana- it is a plant that can single handedly save the economy; we can make paper from it, its a GREAT source of healthy properties our bodies can use. not to mention that many of those people with chronic illnesses do depend on it for its numerous healing properties. This is just a start though. =)

    December 10, 2012 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  12. Boo

    Got to call my relatives in Colorado and find out if they're enjoying their "Rocky Mountain high."

    December 10, 2012 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  13. Larry in Houston

    I have to agree with "wake up people", on the 3 things that happens – although I don't smoke it anymore – and haven't for Years – but this country needs to take the "Criminal Element" out of it. At one time whiskey / beer – was illegal – Imagine if it (pot) was legalized – no more 16 trillion debt ( in time) – I mean if I've got a person that works for me in my business, and they are either drunk, or have been drinking, I typically send them home, because they are not able to perform their work efficiently, thus, they end up losing a day's pay – ( or more, depending on how many days they are off) Same way w/ mary Jane – if they come to work day in & day out like they are stoned, then they don't have a Job the next day – In other words, if they get "hooked" on it, ( like Liquor) I have to get somebody that can handle their Job(s) – – This is what happened during the prohibition times – They Took the Criminal element out of it – Otherwise, we would still see people selling moonshine / whiskey / and home brew of every type and kind, along the roadways , in parking lots, in back alleys / at your local wal-mart & krogers parking lots – people selling bottled stuff from the trunks of their cars / trucks – & the list goes on . That's what we've got now – they are selling marijuana in all the places that I just mentioned . After it's Finally Legal ( in all 50 states) you won't have the criminal element in it – and it can be taxed –

    December 10, 2012 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  14. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    "It sends the wrong message to kids that drugs are OK," he added in a statement
    Oh puleeze! Light(en) up already! lol!
    Alcohol is a drug that is a lot more dangerous than marijuana, andfor that matter so are cigarrettes it's just that they have bigger lobbyists in Washington.
    No one is thinking about harming anyone when they are "smoothed" I've heard (wink!).

    December 10, 2012 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  15. John Smith

    Great! Now the federal government should levy a $ 1000 tax per ounce on the drug. After all, the fed has this right. I do not see how a state can pass a law decriminalizing an act when there is an over riding law by the fed that prohibits it. Let the Weed War begin!

    December 10, 2012 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  16. Laverne

    Maybe I am just old fashion, but I just don't agree with legalizing Marijuana. I believe it ia gateway drug to more powerful drugs and I think we are going down a slipperly slope by making it easier to access. I know folk are going to get it anyway, but often times when something is illegal people seem to be lilttle more cautious in their decisions.

    December 10, 2012 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  17. Allen

    Time to end the war on plant life. God made it, who are you to make rules about it. mind your own business, prudes.

    December 10, 2012 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  18. Fat ninja

    Just, yay. Mere words fail to convey how significant this will be for our country. Law abiding citizens, like myself, living in fear for smoking a joint, can now look forward to police eliminating meth labs, arresting cocaine import and use, helping those with opiate addiction be it illegal or prescription based. Take a deep breath America. Hold it! Now lets all exhale, smile, and get ourselves on the path of growth, personal freedom and ultimately a better, freer union. NOW SOMEBODY PASS ME A FAYGO REDPOP, IM DYIN OF KOTTONMOUTH OVER HERE!

    December 10, 2012 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  19. Thomas

    Tax it just like booze !

    Alcohol , Tobacco , Cannabis and Firearms !

    December 10, 2012 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  20. v_mag

    In other news, Colorado has just noted a surge in population growth.

    December 10, 2012 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  21. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    I know folk are going to get it anyway, but often times when something is illegal people seem to be lilttle more cautious in their decisions
    Prohibition, remember that "cautious" era Laverne? Your point is valid to a certain extent, but you cannot deny that alcohol will get you just as twisted as a joint.
    Besides the only by-product industries that seem to benefit from alcoholics are medical services, lawyers, funeral homes, doctors, restaurants and bars. Oh and rehab centers.
    Whereas marijuana tends to keep local businesses profitable: fast-food joints, restaurants, bodegas, 7-11's, gas stations, local Tower Records (gotta have your tunes), the brother-man with the bean pies and the incense at the corner, supermarkets. LOL!!

    December 10, 2012 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  22. chilly g

    will someone please get the ball moving in MARYLAND i do not want to move out west,im 54 years old and i
    love weed and all ways will. USCM VETERANS.

    December 10, 2012 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  23. robert frost

    Alcohol is the gateway drug!

    December 10, 2012 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  24. Larry in Houston

    To Laverne – LOL – when I was a kid – ( like elementary school thru high school) my parents TOLD ME – IF I wanted a "Beer" all I had to do is go to the fridg & get one – when I told the kids ( my friends) I was in school with – they didn't believe me – they thought I was making that up – The kids I was in school with told me – IF Their Parents allowed THEM to drink, they would Drink & Drink & Drink every nite of the week, and they would love it, if they could stay drunk as a skunk – Do You Know Why ? Becaue They Were Not Allowed ( "allowed", remember that word) In other words, It was Illegal for the under age person living under their parents Roofs, to "Touch" any type of Liquor or "Beer" Get it ??

    Since I was "Allowed" – it wasn't such an "intrigue" or shall I say such a big deal, because I Was Allowed , get it ?
    It was always There – If I wanted a drink, or a beer, I could have gotten it, at any time, get it ?

    Guess that's why I just drink during the holidays – ( get it ? )

    December 10, 2012 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |