Ski Utah 'not concerned' about marijuana legalization in Colorado

Published: Wednesday, Nov. 7 2012 7:00 p.m. MST

Stratton, a Colorado native who cast his vote against the amendment by absentee ballot, said he opposed the measure for moral reasons. But he also questioned the wisdom of legalizing "another mind-altering substance."

"(It) really isn't what the nation needs," Stratton said.

"People think little old ladies with glaucoma should be able to use marijuana. This is different. This is a step further than anything we have seen to date," said Sam Kamin, a University of Denver law professor who has studied the history of pot prohibition.

The Justice Department says it is evaluating the measures. When California was considering legalization in 2010, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said it would be a "significant impediment" to joint federal and local efforts to combat drug traffickers.

Federal agents have cracked down on medical pot dispensaries in states where it is legal, including California and Washington. Individual pot users may not be immediately impacted, as authorities have long focused on dismantling trafficking operations.

Brian Smith of the Washington State Liquor Control Board, which will implement the new law, said officials are waiting anxiously to find out what federal law enforcement authorities plan to do. "They have been silent," Smith said.

Law enforcement officers in Utah, however, are talking about the legal change that happened overnight in neighboring Colorado.

"We'll continue to patrol those stretches of highway that cross from Colorado into Utah, just as we're doing now," said Utah Highway Patrol Cpl. Todd Johnson. "Once they cross the border, they're subject to the laws of Utah." 

Colorado and Washington will have about a year to come up with rules for their legal pot systems. 

And while the future of Colorado's law remains hazy, English said Utah's ski industry clearly isn't worried that skiers will book vacations based solely on access to marijuana. 

"We're not concerned," she said, noting that Utah's appeal among families and older skiers remains strong.

"I think that our resorts and our access, and snow and value all kind of speak for (themselves)," English said.

E-mail: gliesik@desnews.com

Twitter: GeoffLiesik

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