Hours before a Colorado Senate deadline, marijuana legalization opponents introduced a measure to repeal the newly passed ballot initiative to regulate marijuana like alcohol. The bill’s introduction Monday evening, after having become public just a few days earlier, prompted immediate reaction from the marijuana legalization community, and at 10 p.m., the bill’s sponsors backed down and took the bill off the table in the face of a filibuster threat and defeat in the House. From the Associated Press:
The last-minute maneuver infuriated marijuana legalization supporters, some of whom ran up several flights of stairs to testify against the measure when they got word it would be heard.
“You’re subverting the will of the voters,” argued Joe Megysy, spokesman for the Marijuana Policy Project, a major backer of last year’s pot measure.
Even House colleagues seemed taken aback by the late-night maneuver to ask voters again whether retail pot sales should be allowed.
“This has caught all of us a bit off guard,” said Rep. Dan Pabon, sponsor of a marijuana regulation measure in the House. He said the chances of the repeal measure getting the necessary two-thirds margin in House were “.001.”
The bill would have linked repeal to a tax measure that will go before the Colorado legislature this fall. If voters did not approve certain taxes on marijuana, then the repeal would go into effect. The sponsors said its intent was to pressure the marijuana industry to support the taxes, but it also would have pressured voters to choose between accepting taxes they might not support, or lose the ballot initiative they had previously supported. The ballot initiative garnered more votes than President Obama in November.
As the Colorado legislature completed its session, it also considered several other bills related to marijuana regulation. Although several were left in limbo, the legislature did pass a key measure that has failed numerous other times to set driving under the influence limits of 5 nanograms per milliliter. Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) has said he supports the measure. The House also passed a bipartisan resolution asking for direction from the federal government on how to proceed with regulating pot. Attorney General Eric Holder has still not announced any federal policy on the two state laws to legalize recreational marijuana.