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July 8, 2011

Path started to place pot legalization on Colorado ballot in 2012

I expect backers of legalized marijuana will try to get the issue on the California ballot again in 2012 after the relatively narrow loss of an initiative in 2010.  However, as this local article highlights, Colorado is another state to watch closely in the debates over pot prohibition and possible legalization:

In a little more than a year, Colorado may become the first state to legalize marijuana. Between now and then, prepare to meet petition waving enthusiasts. In fact, prepare to meet competing petition wavers as it is quite likely that at least two different pro-marijuana groups will propose at least two different legalization schemes.

First out of the box is the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana like Alcohol, sponsored and/or supported by groups such as SAFER Colorado, Sensible Colorado, the Marijuana Policy Project and the Drug Policy Alliance.

This initiative would amend the Colorado Constitution to allow people 21 and older to buy and possess up to one ounce of marijuana. They would also be able to grow up to six plants and to possess all of the marijuana produced by those plants.

Mason Tvert, the leader of the group, says that the black market currently makes marijuana more easily accessible to children and teenagers than alcohol is. “Parents should support this,” he said. “This will shift it from a prohibition paradigm to a regulation paradigm.”

He said they were planning on the 2012 election because they think the higher voter turnout of a presidential election should favor legalization of marijuana.  He said this initiative has been in the works for more than five years.  He said it took that long to “bring forward the best initiative possible.”...

He said the time seems right to legalize and regulate marijuana, noting that Congressman Jared Polis had recently co-sponsored a bill to legalize marijuana at the federal level, leaving it to states to decide how to deal with it.  He said this was an issue that both liberals and conservatives agree on. In fact, during last year’s Colorado governor’s race, the only candidate who favored legalization was the most conservative: Tom Tancredo....

The initiative would enable the state to collect sales taxes on marijuana and also to levy an excise tax of up to 15 percent. Vicente said the first $40 million raised annually from the excise tax will be earmarked for public school construction. “We estimate overall it will bring in about $70 million a year including savings to law enforcement,” he said....

Supporters emphasized that if this initiative becomes law it will not allow people under 21 to buy or possess marijuana. It will not allow use in public. It will not allow people to drive vehicles when under the influence of marijuana. It would not require businesses to allow use at work or to make any accommodation for marijuana users....

Even as they were holding their press conference at Civic Center Park in downtown Denver, someone from one of the competing marijuana groups was handing out information sheets detailing what they think is wrong with this proposal, namely that it doesn’t really legalize marijuana. The flyer referred to this SAFER initiative as a “sentencing reform initiative,” because possession of more than an ounce would remain illegal and subject people to arrest.

The opposing group, calling itself Legalize2012, hopes to begin a petition drive for “true legalization” soon. One of the leaders of that group, Laura Kriho, actually referred to Tvert as “my opponent” in a recent public appearance.

She said she wants to abolish all marijuana crimes from the books in Colorado and that if voters reject such language, she will try again in 2014, 2016 etc. Kathleen Chippi, at the same forum last month, noted that truly legalizing marijuana would make it more like potatoes. “I can have as many potatoes as I want. The entire drug war is based on lies,” she said. “Let’s get the cops out of our lives.”

Some older and newer related posts on pot policy and politics:

July 8, 2011 at 12:57 PM | Permalink

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Comments

Tvert successfully pushed a ballot measure to end ordinance violations for marijuana use and make marijuana enforcement the "lowest priority" for local law enforcement in Denver. Colorado also has a very large scale medical marijuana system that faces an ever evolving legal environment in which tighter legislative regulations of the ballot initiative created system are facing legal challenge.

Posted by: ohwilleke | Jul 8, 2011 7:57:21 PM

Just a matter of time before some state gets marijuana legalized. May be Colorado will do what California couldn't.

Posted by: Anon | Jul 8, 2011 8:13:07 PM

Anon --

You're a bit behind the times. In Alaska and Maine, simple possession of less than one ounce is not a crime at all. Well, it's not a crime under state law.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Jul 8, 2011 11:15:18 PM

There is also an organized effort to get a legalization/regulation regime on the ballot in Washington State in 2012.

http://www.tokeofthetown.com/2011/06/new_approach_washington_files_initiative_to_legali.php

Posted by: dm | Jul 9, 2011 1:33:49 AM

Submitted by:
Michelle LaMay, M.A., CEO & Dean
Cannabis University™ Inc
303-886-7998
http://www.cannabisuniversityinc.com/blog
http://relief4possession.webs.com/
179 words

PRESS RELEASE

Denver, Colorado, August 3, 2011…The proponents of The Relief for the Possession of Cannabis Act of 2012 met Monday with the Colorado Legislative Council and Legislative Services to hear their review and comments before going before the Title Board for the November 2012 ballot. The amendment would prohibit any court in the state from fining or sentencing a person convicted of the criminal offense of possession of cannabis. 
“The costs and the damage to Colorado families and society and to small governments’ budgets far exceed the crime or the public’s perception of danger,” says proponent Michelle LaMay. “Times have changed. I think of it as the similar to mandatory sentencing or “three strikes you’re out” laws. It is clearly not legalization and it doesn’t cost the taxpayers a dime.” 
Next LaMay says, is funding the printing of the petitions that will go out next spring.  More than 84,000 registered voters need to sign petitions to get on the November 2012 ballot. LaMay can be reached at 303-886-7998, email cannabisuniversity@indra.com , and http://relief4possession.webs.com/

Posted by: Michelle LaMay | Aug 4, 2011 10:32:42 AM

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