While last night marked a truly historic moment in U.S. history, this morning probably feels like many others. Your coffee still tastes the same, your commute was still just as annoying, and you can watch T.V. again without being inundated with ads. Yes, thankfully Amendment 64 was passed with roughly 53% of the vote, but don’t expect to notice the changes for a while.
One of the most common questions we fielded yesterday was, “What happens if it passes?” Ever the prognosticators, we were quick to correct friends and family members: “when it passes.” Polling data had made it clear that Colorado voters were tired of prohibition and ready to embrace regulation, with a popular prediction site giving the measure a 71% chance as of noon on Tuesday. We’ve seen first hand the attitudinal change towards medical marijuana shift greatly since 2008, so it wasn’t difficult to read these tea leaves. What mattered was our response.
One of Denver Relief’s founding principles has always been the belief that cannabis is one of the most therapeutic substances on the planet, and through education and innovation, we can change the lives of our patients. Even though we support Amendment 64, our commitment to medical cannabis patients will not change, despite legal advantages afforded us if we wished to open a retail, non-MMJ location. Our patients are, and always will be, priority #1.
That’s not to say that the passage of 64 doesn’t have medical value. Consider this a win for veterans, who cannot receive medical marijuana to help treat their PTSD. Consider this a win for those struggling with addiction to opiates or alcohol, or for those who suffer with mood disorders that make their lives unpredictable. Soon, they will no longer be dependent on the black market or risk jail time simply because the Department of Health and Environment doesn’t recognize their condition as one that qualifies.
In terms of implementation of the amendment, Colorado residents will be free to smoke, grow, transfer or possess up to 1 ounce privately as soon as Gov. Hickenlooper certifies the election results. This must happen within 30 days of polls closing. While there has been talk of local bans, a city or county cannot prevent a private citizen from cultivating or consuming their cannabis.
As for retail operations, most guesses have the earliest stores opening in late ‘13 or early ‘14. Much like medical marijuana centers, recreational shops must go through a licensing process that is required to be available by October 1st 2013? via the Department of Revenue. If the infrastructure isn’t set up by that time, new retail locations can bypass the DOR and apply with local government. Judging by the prolonged application process for MMC’s, we wouldn’t recommend holding your breath.
In the meantime, we all have an excellent opportunity to begin a discussion with people we care about on marijuana, be it medical or otherwise. Our hope is that as the propaganda and misinformation begin to fall, people who can truly benefit from cannabis stop buying into the stigmas and start feeling better. Then we’re all winners.