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Ganjapreneurs, Governments Await Signal From Feds on Recreational Marijuana

"Is that a cloud or pot smoke lol"

I guess it shouldn't have been such a surprise to me that most of my incoming election-night texts, emails, tweets and whatever else had to do with the passage of Colorado Amendment 64—you know, the pot one—some along the lines of "I'm moving to Colorado," or "You can expect a visit soon!"

Then the headlines zipped around as Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper made a crack about Cheetos. And scenic photos of Colorado on Facebook featured the same pithy captions that they did when medicinal marijuana was first legalized: "Is that a cloud or pot smoke lol"

(Perhaps I can have the joy of being the first to introduce you to words like "ganjapreneurs" and "budtenders.")

Now, we'll go through some of the same growing pains we went through a few years ago. It has taken a long time and a lot of campaigning and legislation to get to where we are, and the marijuana business continues to be very complicated.

If the recreational industry isn't shut down before it starts up, yes, there will be more tax revenues. And there'll be a lot more growhouses and dispensaries.

There'll be confusing legal disputes.

A Denver Post editorial opposed the amendment partially for that reason (while also disclaiming that they think that marijuana should be legal):

[L]egal issues stemming from the federal-state conflict that are already visible in the medical-marijuana industry — such as how marijuana facilities conduct their banking and whether their contracts are legally enforceable — would be greatly magnified and more common.

Another, more personal example: Can you get in trouble for smoking pot on the job? Yes. Can you get in trouble for smoking pot on your own time? We don't really know. (Says the NBA: yes, you can.)
Will the federal government get involved? Probably, and probably in sort of unpredictable ways. After enjoying a very hands-off approach, dispensaries that had established themselves within 1,000 feet of schools were warned in the last year that they were on a list of such businesses targeted for prosecution and asset seizure if they didn't move.

Cities will have a hard time knowing what to do, too. Take liberal Boulder, for example. The City Council opposed Amendment 64, but not because they're all anti-marijuana—they're worried about the regulatory burden on the city.

They'd like clarification from the federal government on how it will approach the new law. So would Colorado's attorney general. So would the governor, who "doubted the Justice Department would respond passively to the passage of Amendment 64."

But who knows? The federal government has been fickle. Aside from the warnings to move away from schools, the pot industry in Colorado has been mostly left alone—seemingly because it has clearer laws than, say, California. It's worth noting, too, that Amendment 64 got more votes in this battleground state than did the president.

Photo via Flickr (cc) user Zach Dischner.

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