Colo. awaits legalization of pot

DENVER – Colorado might have to wait almost a month before the state constitution allows people to legally smoke marijuana in private.

Colorado’s elections chief planned Thursday to certify last month’s vote to allow recreational marijuana use. The certification sets up a 30-day window for Gov. John Hickenlooper to declare the amendment part of the state constitution.

The governor doesn’t have veto power of a voter-approved amendment, but state officials may be waiting for a response from the federal government before taking the final step on marijuana legalization.

The governor’s spokesman, Eric Brown, has said Hickenlooper is assembling a task force to examine the marijuana change. Further details weren’t available Thursday.

Hickenlooper has until Jan. 5 to declare recreational marijuana part of the constitution. He could make the declaration out of public view at any point until then.

Colorado’s measure allows adult older than 21 to possess up to an ounce of marijuana, or six plants. Public use isn’t allowed.

Both Colorado and Washington call for regulation of a commercial marijuana industry. So far the federal government has insisted marijuana remains illegal under federal law, but there’s been no word of lawsuits or other measures to block legalization in the two states.