|Graphic: Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol|
Denver-based activists have filed a ballot initiative with the Secretary of State that they say would regulate marijuana in Colorado in a manner similar to alcohol.
The Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol must now gather 86,105 signatures before August 6, 2012 to qualify for the November 2012 general election ballot.
The proposal requires the Department of Revenue to tax and regulate marijuana and directs this new revenue source to the public school capital construction assistance fund.
It would allow people 21 and older to buy and possess up to an ounce of marijuana. They would also be allowed to grow up to six plants and to possess all the marijuana produced by those plants, reports Scot Kersgaard at the Colorado Independent.
|Photo: Denver Westword|
|Mason Tvert: “Parents should support this”|
The initiative’s backers are long-time Colorado marijuana policy reformers Brian Vicente and Mason Tvert of the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol. Supporting the effort are SAFER Colorado, Sensible Colorado, the Marijuana Policy Project and the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA).
“Parents should support this,” Tvert said, pointing out that, under the black market, marijuana is already more available to teenagers than is alcohol. “This will shift from a prohibition paradigm to a regulation paradigm.”
“This is a very exciting time in Colorado,” Tvert said. “We are leading the way around the country by bringing forth perhaps the strongest most sensible marijuana law in perhaps the entire country.”
“This will allow the state to control the use of marijuana,” Vicente said. “It will take it out of the hands of cartels and gangsters and will move it into a strict state controlled system.”
“Once again Colorado is at the forefront of the national movement to reform our ineffective marijuana laws,” said Art Way, Colorado drug policy manager of the DPA, an organization advocating alternatives to the War On Drugs.
“The responsible regulation of marijuana is a crucial first step in undoing the harms associated with the failed drug war,” Way said.
Recent ballot initiatives and legislative advocacy in Colorado have decriminalized marijuana and established one of the most expansive medical marijuana regulatory systems in the country. Recent polling shows that more than half of the voters in Colorado support ending marijuana prohibition, while 46 percent of Americans nationwide support making marijuana legal.
A decade ago, only one in four Americans supported cannabis legalization.
A report from the Global Commission on Drug Policy released last month suggests the legalization of marijuana as an affirmative step to end failed drug policies that fuel a violent black market.
Marijuana is at the center of the U.S. Drug War, as more than 800,000 Americans are arrested for marijuana offenses each year and are subsequently labeled as criminals, overwhelmingly due to low-level possession for personal use.
“Our wasteful, punitive marijuana laws sustain a massive, increasingly violent underground economy, make criminals out of millions of otherwise law-abiding citizens, waste scarce law enforcement resources, and rob taxpayers of billions in potential revenue,” Way said. “Whether by the hand of lawmakers or a fed-up electorate, these laws are going to change.
An opposing group, calling itself Legalize 2012, says the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol wouldn’t really legalize marijuana. Even as the Campaign was holding its press conference in downtown Denver, Legalize 2012 was handing out info sheets detailing what they believe is wrong with the proposal.
The flyer referred to the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol as a “sentencing reform initiative,” because possession of more than an ounce of pot would remain illegal and subject people to arrest. One of the leaders of Legalize 2012, Laura Kriho, actually referred to Tvert as “my opponent” in a recent public appearance, reports the Colorado Independent.