Rep. Gordon Klingenschmitt, R-Colorado Springs. (RJ Sangosti, Denver Post file)

Colorado amendment on pot licenses for felons adds twist to MMJ review

Update: Sen. Owen Hill, R-Colorado Springs, has responded to Rep. Gordon Klingenschmitt.

“Rep Klingenschmitt is pushing double jeopardy on Colorado citizens. These people have paid the price for their crimes and there is a process for them to be able to vote again and be productive members of society. Tragically Rep. Klingenschmitt wants to prevent them from being employed to score some political talking points, undermining once again our citizens’ trust in elected government to promote liberty and justice for all.”


Rep. Gordon Klingenschmitt is fighting the sunset review legislation that reauthorizes the state’s medical marijuana rules, because he doesn’t think felons deserve a second chance if it comes to growing or selling pot.

Klingenschmitt passed an amendment — with the help of 11 Democrats on April 23 to keep felons from getting a license to work in the medical marijuana business.

The conference committee made up of House and Senate members met on his amendment Tuesday morning and voted him down, 5-1. The compromise now has to pass both chambers before midnight Wednesday or medical marijuana will remain legal, thanks to Amendment 20, but the regulations will sunset and go away.

“I don’t think it will sink it,” the legislature’s go-to pot regulation lawmaker, Rep. Jonathan Singer, D-Longmont, said of Klingenschmitt’s efforts. “If this bill gets sunk, we go back to an unregulated market. Just because you stop regulating medical marijuana, it doesn’t mean medical marijuana is illegal to sell.”

Sen. Pat Steadman, D-Denver, said at the conference committee meeting that the bill does not open up pot jobs to all felons, but those whose charges date to when even small amounts of pot could net a felony charge.

Klingenschmitt told the other conferees he would again ask those who voted with him on April 23 on the House floor to do so again, which could jeopardize the bill.

He put much of the blame for the felon allowance on the bill’s Senate sponsor and a fellow Colorado Springs Republican Owen Hill.

Klingenschmitt said after the meeting that even though the bill was characterized as pertaining to rank-and-file pot shop and grow house employees, it also could apply to those running the businesses.

“I’m disappointed Sen. Owen Hill and Sen. Steadman want convicted felons to be in charge of medical marijuana licenses,” he said. “… Sen. Hill has either lost his mind or lost his conviction in protecting families, protecting patients, protecting the citizens of Colorado. The inmates will now be running the asylum.”

I’ve reached out to Hill for a response. I will update this blog prominently at the top when I hear back.

This story was first published on The Spot blog