Marijuana legalization measure will be on Colorado ballot

This November Colorado voters will get to vote on at least one initiative to legalize possession of small amounts of marijuana by adults.

The Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol announced Monday that Amendment 64 had been certified for the ballot by Secretary of State Scott Gessler.

Organizers held a press conference today, featuring former Colorado House Majority Leader Paul Weissmann.

“As someone who was once referred to as ‘the Capitol’s best-known bartender,’ it is especially appropriate for me to be endorsing the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol. Americans learned long ago that prohibiting a popular, widely used substance is a policy disaster. Alcohol prohibition ended nearly 80 years ago for many good reasons. There are just as many good reasons to end marijuana prohibition and I am proud to be a part of the effort to do that here in Colorado,” he said.

“Voters in Colorado are ready to end marijuana prohibition and begin regulating and taxing it like alcohol,” said proponent Betty Aldworth. “By regulating and taxing marijuana like alcohol Colorado can tightly control its production and sale, generate tens of millions of dollars in new tax revenue, and redirect our limited law enforcement resources toward serious crimes.”

Steve Fox, director of government relations for the Marijuana Policy Project, told The Colorado Independent that he thinks the measure will pass.

“We’ve seen over the last decade or so that marijuana bills do much better in presidential elections than in other years,” he said. Fox said presidential elections typically bring younger voters to the polls.

Asked whether he thought the Department of Justice would stand down and let Colorado legalize marijuana, Fox said, “It is out hope that they understand that marijuana laws are heading in a more rational direction–out of the black market and into the regulated market of legitimate business.”

He noted that even Congress is moving toward liberalizing marijuana laws, and said that Colorado Rep. Jared Polis’s bill to remove marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act so that states can regulate it as they fit now has 20 cosponsors.

“Most people think it is not worthwhile to arrest people for the possession of marijuana. The only people who are really actively opposed are law enforcement.

“There is no question that there is discrimination in the way marijuana laws are applied to unfairly impact communities of color. The sooner we reform our laws the better.”

A second group of marijuana legalization advocates, Legalize 2012, is currently collecting signatures in the hope of also making the ballot. That group is proposing complete legalization with no limits on how much an adult could possess.

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About the Author

Scot Kersgaard

Scot Kersgaard has been managing editor of a political newspaper, editor and co-owner of a ski town newspaper, executive editor of eight high-tech magazines (where he worked with current Apple CEO Tim Cook), deputy press secretary to a U.S. Senator, and an outdoors columnist at the Rocky Mountain News. He has an English degree from the University of Washington. He was awarded a fellowship to study internet journalism at the University of Maryland's Knight Center for Specialized Journalism. He was student body president in college. He spends his free time hiking and skiing.

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