DENVER (AP) — Colorado gave a lonely reception to marijuana when it became the second state to legalize the drug. Just as state officials planned.
Gov. John Hickenlooper on Monday quietly removed the final barrier to legalization by declaring that an amendment passed by voters in November was officially part of the state constitution. He announced the move on Twitter and email after the fact. In response, a handful of marijuana activists celebrated by toking up on the Capitol steps, but there were no crowds and little fanfare.
It was a different scene in Washington state, which last week became the first state to legalize marijuana. There, activists counted down to legalization outside Seattle landmarks such as the Space Needle. Colorado officials wanted no such revelry.
Hickenlooper, a Democrat who opposed the marijuana measure, said he purposely sought a low-key enactment.
Colorado law gave him until Jan. 5 to declare marijuana legal. He told reporters he saw no reason to wait and didn’t see any point in letting marijuana become legal without his proclamation.
“I could have made a bigger deal out of it, you know, tried to make a hoopla out of it,” Hickenlooper told reporters after the marijuana declaration.
“But if we are concerned about young people thinking that this … is really in some way a tacit endorsement, that’s it’s OK to smoke pot — we’re trying to mitigate that as much as possible,” he said.
About two dozen marijuana activists gathered outside Hickenlooper’s office on the Capitol steps to pass around joints and bongs after the announcement. Public consumption in both states remains illegal, but no police officers were in sight of the small celebration in Denver.
“It smells like freedom,” said a smiling, puffing Timothy Tipton, a longtime marijuana activist.
When Colorado’s marijuana measure passed last month with 55 percent of the vote, Hickenlooper cautioned pot smokers not to get too excited because the drug remains illegal under federal law. Colorado and Washington officials both reached out to federal authorities to see if they planned to sue to block the state pot measures. There’s been no signal, with federal authorities simply repeating that the Controlled Substances Act remains intact.
Hickenlooper said there are still many questions to be answered about how federal authorities plan to respond to state marijuana legalization. Colorado’s measure specifically directs lawmakers to regulate commercial sales of marijuana, something federal authorities have repeatedly said they won’t allow.
The governor said he’s not frustrated by the slow federal response.
“They’re going as fast as they can,” Hickenlooper said. “There’s no black and white, right and wrong answer here.”
Colorado’s constitution now allows adults over 21 to possess up to an ounce of marijuana, and six plants. Hickenlooper has set up a task force of lawmakers, law enforcement, marijuana activists and agriculture officials to suggest how the drug should be regulated. The group has a February deadline for suggesting pot rules, which must be approved by the Legislature.
Find Kristen Wyatt at http://www.twitter.com/APkristenwyatt
More Related Stories
- Jodia Arias: I deserve a second chance
- Oklahoma residents return home to pick up the pieces
- Florida man with connection to Tsarnaev killed by FBI
- FBI identifies 5 Benghazi suspects
- Here come the tornado truthers. Already
- Peace Corps to allow gay couples to volunteer together
- Moore officials: Funds for "safe rooms" were held up by red tape
- Rand Paul: Congress should apologize to Apple, not the other way around
- Rescue crews race to find tornado survivors
- Looting in Oklahoma?
- Hundreds of low-wage federally contracted workers strike in D.C.
- Okla. mother's tearful reunion with her 8-year-old son
- New campaign compares gun control to anti-LGBT discrimination
- Study: Salt Lake City is gay parenting capital of the U.S.
- Inhofe and Coburn: Red state hypocrites
- Teen activist to meet with Abercrombie CEO
- Watch: Family emerges from storm shelter after tornado
- Must-see morning clip: Barackalypse Now
- Okla. tornado survivor reunited with dog trapped in rubble live on camera
- Is Pope Francis an exorcist?
- Oklahoma death count confirmed at 24, 9 children
Featured Slide Shows
The week in 10 picsclose X
- 1 of 11
Lisa Montgomery embraces her nephew Thursday after a tornado tore apart her home in Cleburne, Texas. The twister killed six people and destroyed entire swaths of the North Texas town.
Credit: AP/LM Otero
Jack McMahon, the defense attorney for abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell, speaks outside the Criminal Justice Center in Philadelphia Tuesday. His client was convicted of killing three babies in his clinic, and will serve multiple life sentences.
Credit: AP/Matt Rourke
A photo taken Monday captures Vice President Joe Biden's response to a Milwaukee second-grader's innovative proposal to end America's epidemic of gun violence. This guy!
Credit: AP/Jenny Aicher
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., flanked by a grouper-eyed Michele Bachmann, addresses the IRS' admission that it targeted Tea Party groups in advance of the 2012 election. In an op-ed for CNN Thursday, the Kentucky senator slammed the president for his faux outrage.
Credit: AP/Molly Riley
Ousted IRS chief Steven Miller is sworn in on Capitol Hill Friday. Miller testified before the House Ways and Means Committee on the extra scrutiny the agency gave conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status.
Credit: AP/J. Scott Applewhite
Attorney General Eric Holder pauses as he testifies on Capitol Hill before the House Judiciary Committee Wednesday. Holder is under fire, among other things, for the Justice Department's gathering of phone records at the Associated Press.
Credit: AP/Carolyn Kaster
O.J. Simpson sits during an evidentiary hearing at Clark County District Court in Las Vegas, Nev., Thursday. Simpson, who is currently serving a nine-to-33-year sentence in state prison for armed robbery and kidnapping, is using a writ of habeas corpus to seek a new trial.
Credit: AP/Las Vegas Review-Journal/Jeff Scheid
Major Tom to ground control: On Sunday astronaut Chris Hadfield recorded the first music video from space, a cover of David Bowie's "Space Oddity."
Credit: AP/NASA/Chris Hadfield
When it rains it pours. President Barack Obama speaks during a news conference Thursday with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, inexplicably inspiring an #umbrellagate Twitter meme.
Credit: AP/Jacquelyn Martin
A smoke plume rises high above a road block at the intersection of County A and Ross Road east of Solon Springs, Wis., Tuesday. No injuries were reported, but the the wildfire caused evacuations across northwestern Wisconsin.
Credit: AP/The Duluth News-Tribune/Clint Austin
Recent Slide Shows
- 1 of 11