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Public opinion of cannabis has shifted rapidly over the past five years; since Coloradans voted to legalize recreational marijuana in November 2012, seven other states and Washington, D.C., have also voted to legalize cannabis for adult use. And the rest of the country apparently approves, according to a new Gallup poll that shows Americans favor legalization at a higher rate than ever before.

On the surface, Arizona’s rejection of Proposition 205, the Regulation and Taxation of Marijuana Act, seemed like a clear victory for the various anti-legalization organizations throughout the state. However, a look at the opposition and the contents of the proposition itself show a more complex political situation.

Arizona passed Prop 200 and legalized marijuana for medical use in 1996 — before Colorado did. Even so, Arizona was the only state out of nine with marijuana questions on the ballot to reject a marijuana measure this round. Over one million voters, constituting 52 percent of the result, voted against Prop 205. This despite the fact that Arizona has over 130 medical dispensaries in operation and Prop 205 was polling at 50 percent in OctoberSo what happened?

In late August, the Denver Responsible Use Initiative, a proposal intended to create venues for the social consumption of cannabis in the Mile High City, fell short of qualifying for the November ballot. Afterward, attorney Judd Golden of Denver NORML, which backed the measure, told us the organization had not yet decided whether it would support a rival initiative, the Neighborhood Supported Cannabis Consumption Pilot Program, should its ballot petition pass muster.

Shortly thereafter, the pilot program achieved ballot qualification — and the campaign for what is now known as Initiative 300 is in full swing on the eve of election day. But Denver NORML isn’t part of the Yes on 300 campaign’s final push.

LivWell is standing up for growers in Pueblo County.

Voters in that county are facing Ballot Question 200: “Shall the Pueblo County Code be amended by Ordinance to prohibit all licensed Retail (recreational) Marijuana Establishments in all areas under the licensing jurisdiction of Pueblo County, by requiring all existing Retail Marijuana Testing Facilities, Retail Marijuana Cultivation Facilities, Retail Marijuana Product Manufacturing Facilities, and Retail Marijuana Stores to close by October 31, 2017 and by immediately prohibiting Pueblo County from approving all new licenses for these facilities?”

Kayvan Khalatbari, second from right, and other proponents of the Neighborhood Supported Cannabis Consumption Pilot Program at the Denver Elections Division. Additional photos and more below.

Update: Only days after the Denver NORML-sponsored Denver Responsible Use Initiative fell short of qualifying for the November ballot, the Denver Elections Division announced that the Neighborhood Supported Cannabis Consumption Pilot Program has passed muster.

Denver voters will now have a chance to weigh in about the proposal, which will allow marijuana use in social settings — specifically selected bars and restaurants in the Mile High City, as outlined in our previous coverage below.

At a U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee hearing convened last week to consider “the potential medical benefits of marijuana,” lawmakers heard from cannabis advocates and doctors alike. Their testimony overwhelmingly supported marijuana being used for medical purposes; many of the speakers also supported rescheduling cannabis to a Schedule II substance.

Numerous individuals and organizations had been invited to present testimony, including Aaron Smith, co-founder and executive director of the National Cannabis Industry Association. NCIA represents more than 1,000 businesses in forty states, including many in Colorado. Smith told the senators that while the American public has acknowledged the medical benefits of cannabis for decades, the federal government has yet to do so. This reluctance at the federal level has prohibited adequate research into cannabis, which furthers the argument of naysayers. It’s a catch-22, he said: Without legitimate research, detractors can continue to claim that marijuana does not have any medical value — but as it stands, scientific research is not possible, so it’s hard to prove the medical benefits of the substance.

It might not have been a fruitful election for President Obama and his fellow Democrats, but one faction of lefties and libertarians had a banner day: We’re talking about drug-decriminalization supporters. Voters in Oregon, Alaska and Washington, D.C. approved the legalization of limited amounts of recreational marijuana for the 21-and-older set. Californians approved categorizing minor drug possession as a misdemeanor, via Proposition 47. And New Jersey reformed its bail system in a way that will keep many low-level drug offenders out of prison.
But when it comes to marijuana, California is looking like the never-the-bride bridesmaid again this year. Despite our groundbreaking, 1996 initiative that made us the first state in the union to legalize medical marijuana, the Golden State has been slow to join the recreational craze. Activists say that’s about to change.


As the television camera lights shine on Pat McLellan’s face, he holds up a set of four sheets of paper, each a signed pledge from a gubernatorial candidate saying that they support expanding Minnesota’s medical cannabis laws.
He takes a breath, then spreads the papers out across the podium in front of him. They’re all here, he says. GOP candidate Jeff Johnson. The Independence Party’s Hannah Nicollet. Libertarian Chris Holbrook and Grassroots Party candidate Chris Wright. But one’s missing: incumbent Mark Dayton.

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