The Pueblo West View

Sheriff: State will regret new pot law

Predicts we’ll ‘say it’s a big mistake’

As the historic opening day of retail marijuana sales near on Wednesday, Pueblo County Sheriff Kirk Taylor doesn’t see a dip in crime, the death of the black market or a greater society.

“My personal opinion, in 15 years we’re all going to look back on this and say it was a big mistake,” Taylor said.

High state and local sales taxes only help the black market grow, he said, and the regulatory framework established by the Legislature and county are lacking.

“Price and demand are tied together, so if you increase the price, which they’ll have to do based on taxation principles, there’s a school of thought it’ll increase the black market,” Taylor said. “The issues I think we’ll find with retail sales is with the store fronts. I think they’re going to have a hard time regulating those products that go out the front door verse product going out that back door. We’ve seen it with medical marijuana and we’ll see it with retail sale.”

For regulations, Taylor said intentions were “good” but “they didn’t think it through.”

Regarding daily operations, however, the biggest change in law enforcement will be implementing a legal driving limit for marijuana, 5 nanograms or more of THC, pot’s psychoactive ingredient.

“Right now they’re trying to develop some kind of instrument to measure that through breath. I think it’s very difficult. As a state we’re following a lot of what they do in California,” Taylor said. “I don’t think it helps or hinders law enforcement. We still have the same processes to go through. But it’s going to determine for the courts a limit, which they didn’t have before.”

And like underage drinking, those 21 and younger will be ticketed for marijuana possession. Marijuana will still be considered contraband in Pueblo County jail.

The law perspective aside, Taylor sees pot legalization as impacting youth.

“When society says it’s OK, you increase accessibility and affordability, you’re going to increase abuse by our youth, and no amount of regulation from the state or federal government can prevent that.”

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The Pueblo West View