Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Amendment 64 task force continues to draw heat

Posted By on Wed, Jan 30, 2013 at 3:51 PM

Mark Slaugh

Back in December, we talked to local marijuana advocate Mark Slaugh about concerns he had with a member of Gov. John Hickenlooper's task force that was created to implement Amendment 64. Tamra Ward, the CEO of business-advocacy group Colorado Concern, signed a letter to the federal government asking them to move against Colorado's new law by enforcing the Controlled Substances Act. (The Colorado Springs Regional Business Alliance also signed this letter, and never responded to multiple requests from the Indy for comment.)

Well, another task-force member has drawn the marijuana industry's focus: Dr. Christian Thurstone.

"Sworn to not conflict the Will of the People by debating the merits of marijuana legalization; it is a shock to see one member of the Task Force blatantly disregard this principle," wrote Slaugh on Tuesday in an e-mail to a variety of state officials, as well as to media statewide. "It is clear that Dr. Christian Thurstone cannot set aside his differences prior to the election in opposing Amendment 64. In stark contrast, he has joined the board for Project SAM — this 'newly imaged' prohibitionist group has formed since the history votes in Colorado and Washington to attempt a dialogue at any answer to marijuana use EXCEPT legalization and regulation.

"Project SAM clearly states they do not believe marijuana legalization is a feasible answer and in taking this position Dr. Thurstone is directly debating the merits of Amendment 64 in public."

Jack Finlaw, chief legal counsel for the governor, quickly fired back.

"Let me remind you that the task force charge is to identify the legal and policy issues that need to be resolved, and to offer suggestions and proposals for legislative, regulatory and executive actions to be taken, to implement Amendment 64," wrote Finlaw just hours later.

"All task force members have agreed that, in their capacity as a task force member, they will work to find practical and pragmatic ways to implement Amendment 64 and to not engage in a debate about the merits of the new law. I know you have attended the task force meetings and thus you know that we have followed this directive in our meetings. Task force members are of course free to express their views on any issue outside of their task force participation.

"Again, I think this both/and approach will produce recommendations that are more valuable to the Governor, the General Assembly and the Attorney General than if the task force members were all of like mind."

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