Colorado Marijuana Legalization Initiative Filed; Squabble Erupts


Graphic: Legalize 2012 Campaign

​Marijuana advocates on Thursday filed eight initiatives with the state of Colorado aimed at legalizing marijuana. All of the initiatives would ask voters in 2012 to legalize the use and possession of an ounce or less of cannabis for those 21 and older, and all would allow the state to set up a regulatory system for retail pot sales.

That would be a good thing, right? Or at least represent a kind of forward progress? Not so fast, according to members of the Legalize 2012 Campaign, which said “Colorado cannabis patients and advocates are confused and surprised” by the attempt by what it called “a conservative faction of national and local drug policy reform groups.”
So it seems, instead of a united front for legalizing cannabis in Colorado, what we get — once again, Jah help us — is internecine backbiting, second guessing, name calling, and the type of disappointing, unseemly feuding that does the movement no favors, divides the marijuana vote, and all but ensures failure. How about a replay of California’s Prop 19? Yeah, me neither.

Members of the Marijuana Policy Project, the Drug Policy Alliance, Safer Alternative For Enjoyable Recreation (SAFER) and Sensible Colorado developed eight different versions of the ballot initiative and filed them with the Colorado Secretary of State on Thursday, reports Tim Hoover of The Denver Post.

There are eight versions, according to Brian Vicente, executive director of Sensible Colorado, so that supporters can see which of them will pass the state’s Title Setting Review Board, the three-member panel which determines if initiatives meet the Colorado Constitution’s “single subject” requirement.

Photo: Denver Westword
Laura Kriho of the Legalize 2012 Campaign: “The lines have been clearly set now”

​”This comes as a surprise to other cannabis reform groups in Colorado,” the Legalize 2012 Campaign says in a press release. “Members of the Legalize 2012 Campaign, who have been working on their own ballot initiative for over a year, were shown a draft of one of the MPP/DPA initiatives only a few days ago. The MPP/DPA/SAFER/Sensible alliance never indicated that they were on the verge of filing. On the contrary, they had seemed open to listening to ideas from other groups in the state.”
According to Legalize 2012, the initiative would hand over control of the state’s marijuana business to the state Department of Revenue.
“The DOR has been adversarial to the medical marijuana program from the beginning,” the group said. “They have denied licenses without good cause, harassed applicants, held secret meetings, and are on the verge of going online with a massive Patient and Medicine Tracking Database and Surveillance System that will track every seed and gram in the state. The DOR has not granted one license to an MMC applicant, in almost a year since they started accepting applications. Why does MPP/DPA/Sensible/SAFER trust the DOR so much and want to give them total control over cannabis in Colorado?”

Photo: Jay Walter/John Doe Radio
Tim Martin, The John Doe Radio Show: “Arguing SAFER and MPP have agendas against legalization isn’t moving forward”

​”I would at least wait until the Department of Revenue had issued one license to an MMC applicant successfully, before I submitted an initiative law that let the DOR run a whole new marijuana program,” Laura Kriho of the Legalize 2012 Campaign.
“The lines have been clearly set now on the division of cannabis reform policy in Colorado,” Legalize 2012 said in its strident press release. “The MPP/DPA/Sensible/SAFER initiative has chosen to ignore any local efforts for a real legalization ballot initiative in favor of writing an initiative that appeals to law enforcement.
“They have decided that they don’t want to work with anyone else in the state and are unwilling to compromise on the language,” Legalize 2012 said.
“Cannabis activists statewide are shocked by the MPP/DPA/Sensible/SAFER strategy of refusing to work with any of the other activist groups working on statewide cannabis initiatives,” the group claimed.
But some Colorado activists felt the Legalize 2012 press release was unnecessarily divisive.
“Passing cannabis regulations like the ones you hope for are not possible right now,” radio personality Tim Martin of The John Doe Radio Show posted on Facebook. “Understand what you’re trying to get forward but firing off a letter like Laura did to divide the community and arguing SAFER and MPP have agendas against legalization isnt moving forward.”