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02/21/2013

Marijuana tourists in Denver?

Marijuana
A vendor points out the variety of marijuana for sale at the Northwest Cannabis Market in Seattle. If approved,  it will mean anyone -- not just Colorado residents, but tourists as well -- will be able to purchase marijuana in quantities of up to 3.5 grams starting next January. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

In a recommendation certain to trigger an avalanche of bad puns, a Colorado task-force is opening the door to Denver as the new Amsterdam, calling for wide-open sales of legal marijuana to tourists near and far.

Go ahead, get them out of your system. But let's call a moratorium right now on Rocky Mountain High. 

The recommendations, tabled late Tuesday and summarized nicely by the Wall Street Journal, are not yet carved in stone(r). Colorado lawmakers are expected to make a final decision in May on how to regulate sales of recreational marijuana approved last November by 55 per cent of voters in a statewide ballot.

If approved,  it will mean anyone -- not just Colorado residents, but tourists as well -- will be able to purchase marijuana in quantities of up to 3.5 grams starting next January. The task-force includes elected officials, law-enforcement officers and owners of medical marijuana dispensaries.

"You're going to see an instant spike in demand because of the sheer excitement of people," Jason Katz, a medical marijuana dispensary manager, told the Journal. "Colorado will inevitably become a tourist destination for anyone who wants to smoke marijuana without being potentially threatened or being a criminal."

As Colorado and Washington state, which also approved recreational marijuana sales in a statewide vote, sort out the new rules on weed, the stance of the Obama administration remains fuzzy, at best. President Barack Obama has gone on record as saying the federal government has "bigger fish to fry" that to go after individual users in states where the drug has been deemed legal.

But Washington appears determined to enforce federal laws against large-scale growers and distributors, with the potential for future justice-department raids, regardless of state law.

 

Mitch Potter is the Toronto Star's Washington Bureau Chief, his third foreign posting after previous assignments to London and Jerusalem. Potter led the Toronto Star’s coverage of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, where he won a 2006 National Newspaper Award for his reportage. His dispatches include datelines from 33 countries since 2000. Follow him on Twitter: @MPwrites

 

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