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Are Colorado's Marijuana Laws Out Of Control? Some Police Officers Think So

We usually see law enforcers as proponents of cannabis prohibition. In Colorado, they're fine with legalizing marijuana, but they're saying they can't keep pace with all of the new laws and regulations, and they want a moratorium on new ones.

Right now, recreational marijuana use is legal in Colorado - except that you can't sell it in certain counties, you can't call it "organic" anywhere and you can't sell edibles that look like cartoon characters. And those are just some of the confusing rules and regulations in place. That's why local law enforcers have called on legislators to take a break from tinkering with the state's cannabis laws.

Last week, the Colorado Association of Chiefs of Police the County Sheriffs of Colorado and the Colorado District Attorneys' Council sent a letter to lawmakers asking for a two-year moratorium on revising marijuana laws. "Regulation seems to change on a daily basis, and this process must be slowed down," they wrote in the letter.

"It's just an incredible amount of laws, an incredible amount of regulations that are put into place that we just cannot keep up with," Pueblo Police Chief Luis Valez told NBC-affiliate KOOA 5. "We need [legislators] to slow down, so that we can at least catch up to what [they] expect the standard to be. We would like to keep up a well regulated marijuana industry, but right now we can't do that."

Lawmakers are sympathetic to the plight of police

"I think some of the concerns that are brought forward in the letter are valid and we need to continue to listen," Majority House Leader Crisanta Duran (D) told CBS Denver.

But she argues that the slew of bills have been introduced to address the public's concerns. "When we bring forward legislation, it's to address issues we're hearing in our community."

Others weren't as understanding - especially Rep. Jonathan Singer (D), who introduced the bill that compelled the police association to finally speak up.

According to CBS Denver, law enforcers drafted their letter in response to Singer's proposal to legalize cannabis social clubs. Right now, residents can only consume cannabis at home, which can cause problems if your landlord forbids marijuana use, even for medicinal purposes.

Social clubs a crucial part of legalization process

Singer characterized the letter as a short-sighted reaction to his social-clubs bill, which he sees is crucial to finalizing Colorado's legalization regime. "If you're going to treat pot like alcohol, then treat it like alcohol."

But Greenwood Village Police Chief John Jackson insists that lawmakers aren't targeting any bills in particular. They're just trying to find a way to catch up with all the new rules and regs.

"Law enforcement is not just simply digging in our heels and saying, 'Repeal, repeal, repeal,'" he told CBS. "We're just trying to say it's going so fast it's out of control."

According to Jackson, only 30 percent of Colorado's 15,000 peace officers are trained in the basics of marijuana law. So the moratorium is really about buying time for law enforcers to catch up with the latest laws before they change again.

banner image: PBS News Hour / Flickr


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