Garfield County commissioner "confused" by federal government's recreational pot stance

Aug 30, 2013

The federal government said it won't try and block new recreational marijuana laws in Colorado and Washington. The two states are the first to allow for recreational use of the drug.
Credit Flickr/Dave H

The federal government yesterday (Thurs., 8-29-13) said it won’t sue to stop recreational marijuana use in Colorado and Washington. The news comes a little over a week after Garfield County commissioners voted to ban recreational marijuana businesses in certain areas of the county. Aspen Public Radio’s Rebecca Kruth spoke to one of the commissioners who voted in favor of the ban and filed this report.  

Garfield County Commissioner John Martin says the federal government’s latest stance on recreational marijuana has left him feeling somewhat confused.

“What other legislation do they choose not to enforce, and then what happens to your judicial system?" he said. "What happens to the whole foundation of the United States? Either repeal the whole thing or don’t just ignore it.”

Last week, the Garfield County Commission voted by a two to one margin to ban recreational marijuana businesses in unincorporated parts of the county.

Martin voted for the ban, and he says there are at least 29 other counties in Colorado following suit.

“I would say the majority in the counties will be a stand like Garfield County, Mesa County Rio Blanco County, Delta, Montrose, Weld County, etc. All those counties decided not to get into it, because there’s too many risks and pitfalls," he said.

Martin says he doesn’t think the federal government’s ruling will change Garfield County’s stance on the matter.

“It does go against the court rulings, but again, they’re the Department of Justice. We’ll see how the courts react to it," Martin said. "Step by step, that’s the way it gets resolved, one step at a time, not just by one single vote of the electorate."

In November 2012, almost two thirds of Garfield County voters said yes to Amendment 64, which legalized the use and sale of recreational pot in limited amounts.

The county’s ban does not affect medical marijuana.