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Colorado May Become the New Pot Legalization Battleground

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DENVER–Marijuana advocates racked up big wins in this year's session of the Colorado Legislature. Now they're turning their sights to a bigger effort–full legalization on the 2012 ballot.

Pot legalization backers hope to start gathering signatures as soon as this summer to put the question to voters. Given Colorado's low signature threshold for ballot initiatives, which currently stands at about 86,000 people, they say they expect an easy path to the polls.

Colorado voters defeated a legalization measure in 2006, as did California voters last year. But activists here are regrouping for another push.

"We're going to have a great legalization debate in 2012," predicted Laura Kriho of the Cannabis Therapy Institute, a powerful grass-roots organizer that alerts marijuana advocates to lobby public officials on measures related to pot.

Lawmakers heard from activists several times during the 2011 session that ended last week, and they achieved some surprising victories.

Advocates defeated a proposal to set a driving-high impairment standard that was backed by law enforcement. They quickly squashed a proposal to ban edible marijuana, and dispensaries chipped away at some residency rules and other requirements through a revision of marijuana regulation that had been adopted the year before.

With lobbyists working Capitol halls and a network of marijuana patients packing committee hearings, Colorado's pot community won over lawmakers on many measures intended to crack down on the nascent industry.

"With each passing legislative session, we're seeing marijuana and the marijuana distribution system further entrenched and accepted in the state," said Brian Vicente, head of Sensible Colorado.

Now they're turning back to the public. Next month, SAFER Colorado and other groups plan to finish work on a proposed ballot measure to make marijuana legal for all adults, not just those with certain medical conditions. After getting the language cleared by state elections officials, supporters can gather signatures.

"We've had medical marijuana out there now for more than 10 years without any of the terrible things they said were going to happen. We haven't seen an increase in accidents, in visits to emergency rooms, in crime–we haven't seen increases in anything bad," Kriho said.

Even a prominent critic of Colorado's marijuana industry, Republican Attorney General John Suthers, said last week that he welcomes a debate on whether pot should be legal. Suthers has argued that recreational pot users have subverted Colorado's medical marijuana program.

"We have a system right now of state-sponsored fraud," Suthers said.

Suthers said he'd oppose legalization but welcomed another ballot measure on the idea. "At least a legalization debate will be an honest across-the-board discussion of whether we really want to make this legal," he said.

Marijuana advocates believe they can win that argument, and they have reason for confidence.

They prevailed over law enforcement over setting DUI limits for THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana. Police backed a 5 nanogram blood-content limit. Marijuana advocates blasted lawmakers with e-mails and phone calls opposing the pot DUI bill, and a bipartisan group of senators rejected the measure.

The bill failed in the Legislature's closing days after even some conservative Republicans complained the 5 nanogram level seemed an arbitrary indication of whether a driver is impaired. Pot patients toasted the bill's demise with a victory party the final night of the legislative session.

"It's great the Legislature didn't take action on such a harmful bill that wasn't grounded in evidence," said Mason Tvert, head of SAFER Colorado, a pro-legalization group.

Pot advocates' biggest loss was a new requirement that caretakers–people who raise pot for a small number of patients–be required to register with the state. Caregivers argued that health officials, but not police, should know who is growing pot, and they complained that making the caretaker registry public would put home growers at greater risk of theft.

Lawmakers stuck with the registry but exempted it from state open records law, blocking public access to the list of caretakers and their addresses.

That requirement came in a larger marijuana regulation adjustment that affects many aspects of how pot is grown and sold. The measure, which awaits the signature of Gov. John Hickenlooper, loosened residency requirements for non-owners who work in dispensaries and required pot shops to treat patient records as medical records, among other things.

Hickenlooper hasn't said yet whether he'll sign the bill. But the governor, along with lawmakers from both parties, seems to be shrugging off a warning letter sent last month by Colorado's top federal prosecutor, John Walsh.

Walsh warned that state employees who administer marijuana regulations could risk federal prosecution. The letter was similar to ones sent by federal prosecutors in other medical marijuana states, including Washington, where Gov. Chris Gregoire vetoed legislation to license marijuana dispensaries after the Justice Department said it could result in a federal crackdown.

Hickenlooper said that he didn't share Gregoire's fear that regulations would bring federal drug raids.

"If the medical marijuana facility is conforming to our regulations, I would assume the federal government will not raid it," Hickenlooper said Thursday.

News Hawk- Jacob Ebel 420 MAGAZINE
Source: huffingtonpost.com
Author: Matt Ferner
Contact: Contact us
Copyright: TheHuffingtonPost.com, Inc.
Website: Colorado May Become The New Pot Legalization Battleground


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Way to have balls Colorado. I wish all state governments could show the integrity (doing the right thing because its right no matter what) that you're displaying right now. Let the people decide, that's how it should be.


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The older people (like myself) will note that improvements are slow, but gaining in momentum every year. Honestly, we have not had it so good since the original prohibition. There are still some back-wood states that will never accept it, mostly because it is too liberal and perceived as a non-white thing to do. They will never change, and still feel the civil war is going on. The best weapons we have in this fight is our unity and numbers. The more press we have, the more of a lobby we produce, the better chance we have of federal legislatures wanting to pool together a strong vote for themselves.


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I am so glad I moved to Colorado!!!! I knew it was the right move for me. And yes, I moved because I wanted to improve my nug situation. Nug should be as common as milk in the fridge. That is how I want it to be and that is why i did what it took to move here to support a state that supports me and the way I choose to live my life.

By living here not only does my nug situation improve dramatically, but I also work here, I pay taxes here, I participate in the economy here and by doing so I support this great state. I have no doubt that 2012 is our time. I am a registered Colorado voter and already I am thinking of ways to help get this over and done with. Full legalization is our right and it is within our reach.

*** L E G A L I Z E ! ! ! ***


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There are still some back-wood states that will never accept it, mostly because it is too liberal and perceived as a non-white thing to do.

As far as the larger picture goes, I believe the "non-white" thing to do is nonsense. American culture embraces a hard-work ethos and tends to be very skeptical of people whom are perceived to be "down on their luck." Pot culture tends to embrace the unproductive appearing adventures of fun loving stoners like Cheech and Chong or Herold and Kumar. In short, Americans love people that scratch their way to the top (especially when laws are broken) and find amusement in viewing one's stumbling. As a society we tend to embrace winners (Kobe may have raped a chick but he's a helluva ball player), and condemn the victim (she was a slut with many lovers).

Americans tend to perceive cannabis users as lazy and fun lover at best. At worst, the arguments could take on what ever tone we can imagine. Change the perception, and more will see things as they are.

Racism is a reality. The fact that the last three presidents we've had smoked pot goes to show that "white America" doesn't have the issue with consumption that others would like everyone to believe. I'm sure the "white thing to do" argument is out there; I'm not sure too many follow.
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