Introducing The Cannabis Initiative

Colorado could be the first state to seriously decriminalize the recreational use of marijuana, paving the way for other state-based proposals nationally. That is, if the proposal can jump over its first hurdle: getting enough signatures to be put on the ballot.

After gaining momentum from their Denver victory last year, the group Safer Alternative For Enjoyable Recreation (SAFER) is working to give Colorado voters a choice about the criminalization of cannabis.

“If this initiative passes it will simply make procession of up to one ounce of marijuana legal for adults 21 and older, under Colorado State Law,” said SAFER campaign manager, Mason Tvert.

According to Tvert, the campaign will be submitting signatures to the Secretary of State’s office this Monday. They will need about 68,000 valid signatures to get the initiative on the ballot. If that happens, it will be up to the voters.

In 2005, a SAFER initiative was passed in Denver by 53%. But Tvert says the city decided to follow state statues when enforcing the issue.

“Last year our organization successfully passed an initiative at the city level to amend city ordinances to do the same thing. Unfortunately, city officials have decided to forgo the voters and have continued to enforce state law and prosecute individuals under state law, so we found that we must change state law in order to stop wasting time and money worrying about adults and a drug less harmful than alcohol.”

The campaign also reports that gathering signatures used to be done only by volunteers,  but has recently moved towards paid petitioners.

Erin Rosa was born in Spain and raised in Colorado Springs. She is a freelance writer currently living in Denver. Rosa's work has been featured in a variety of news outlets including the Huffington Post, Democracy Now!, and the Rocky Mountain Chronicle, an alternative-weekly in Northern Colorado where she worked as a columnist covering the state legislature. Rosa has received awards from the Society of Professional Journalists for her reporting on lobbying and woman's health issues. She was also tapped with a rare honorable mention award by the Newspaper Guild-CWA's David S. Barr Award in 2008--only the second such honor conferred in its nine-year history--for her investigative series covering the federal government's Supermax prison in the state. Rosa covers the labor community, corrections, immigration and government transparency matters. She can be reached at