Marijuana legalized in Colorado as Amendment 64 passes

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Despite falling in Moffat County, Amendment 64 to the Colorado State Constitution passed Tuesday, potentially legalizing the recreational use of marijuana in Colorado.

While there are still many questions to be answered and regulations to enact before using marijuana is legal, it was a landmark decision which could spearhead a creation of the marijuana industry.

While in the Moffat County the amendment lost by over 300 votes, or by 53-47 percent, The Denver Post called the race at 9:15 p.m., when Amendment 64 had 52.7 percent voting "yes" statewide.

As a result, Colorado could become the first state to legalize recreational use of the drug as well as legal sales (Washington also passed a similar amendment Tuesday).

From a law enforcement standpoint, Moffat County Sheriff Tim Jantz said the result was frustrating.

“I’m disappointed as a law enforcement official,” Jantz said. “One thing I’ve strived for is to bring an anti-drug campaign throughout my career. I don’t want my children or grandchildren to be exposed to that.”

Jantz said he is aware of both sides’ arguments for marijuana legalization and that those pushing for Amendment 64 said marijuana does not cause problems on its own. However, he said it is rare to come across marijuana alone.

“Is it true that a person on marijuana is less likely to commit violent crimes?” Jantz said. “Yes, that’s what the statistics stay, but the fact is it’s usually not limited to one drug. It is usually mixed with alcohol or other drugs.

"It if is regulated better and people are only doing marijuana, there could be a less negative side to it. My experience over the years does not go with that.”

The amendment, which would allow people ages 21 and older to purchase up to one ounce of marijuana at specially regulated retail stores, still faces several road blocks. Local governments could still ban marijuana sales and federal law still regulates the drug as a banned substance.

Jantz said he will be interested to see how it plays out.

“I guess the majority of Colorado has spoken,” he said. “It’s a violation of federal law, but the public has spoken and now I guess we’ll see what happens.”

— The Denver Post contributed to this report.

Nate Waggenspack can be reached at 875-1795 or nwaggenspack@craigdailypress.com.

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