Can Colorado Successfully Regulate Legal Pot Without Violating Federal Law?


When Colorado voted a year ago to legalize marijuana, it went on “a fast track to doing something no polity has ever done before, says On Jan. 1, Colorado will become the first state in the modern world to legalize marijuana from seed to sale. (Uruguay voted on Tuesday to legalize pot, but the law won’t be implemented for 120 days. In the Netherlands, marijuana is simply decriminalized, not legal. While Washington state also is legalizing marijuana, its regulatory system likely wont’ be up and running until next summer.

Colorado's lawmakers, businesses, and citizens are facing issues no one has tackled before. How do you legally produce marijuana? What procedures should be put in place for packaging, transportation, sale, and taxation? How do you keep track of all that pot, and how do you discipline those who run afoul of regulations? How do you regulate the financing of pot operations, the development of peripheral businesses, the marketing of marijuana to tourists? And how do you keep the whole thing from falling apart? Over the next two months, University of Denver law Prof. Sam Kamin and writer Joel Warner will cover the evolution of legalization closely for Slate. They note that “Colorado has to figure out a way to abide by its voters' wish to authorize marijuana's possession, manufacture, and sale without causing the feds to act on the fact that all of these actions are still punishable by up to life in prison.”

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