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Stage Set for the Great Marijuana Showdown in Colorado

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When President Barack Obama's Administration did a 180 and put medical marijuana dispensaries on notice last week it was a barely-audible warning shot fired off the port bow. A memo released by the Department of Justice departed sharply from previous administration policy, stating that federal prosecutors were getting the green light to go after local medical marijuana dispensaries regardless of their compliance with state law.

That memo last Wednesday from the DOJ contradicted a 2009 statement by then-Attorney General Eric Holder. The 2009 edict declared that federal resources would not be used under Obama's watch to prosecute medical marijuana distributors who were in violation of federal law, but were compliant with state laws like Colorado's that allow for the legal production and distribution of medical-grade pot.

Now Colorado's marijuana lobby is going on the offensive, making a declaration of its own that it will seek legalization of marijuana for recreational use. Beginning today, you may start seeing petitions circulating outside your local King Soopers asking voters to put a citizens' initiative on the 2012 ballot that would allow Coloradans age 21+ to possess small quantities of marijuana for personal use. Supporters will need to gather about 86,000 signatures to put their initiative on next year's ballot.

The measure would largely decriminalize personal use of America's second most popular drug, and would encourage the state legislature to impose a 15% tax on recreational marijuana distribution. This economy-boosting method for promoting pot legalization will be key in drawing statewide support outside of the Denver Metro liberal core. Denver legalized personal marijuana use within the city limits in 2005.

The timing is not coincidental. Although Colorado marijuana advocates have been working to place a legalization measure on the ballot since a similar statewide initiative failed in 2006, last week's about-face by the Obama Administration has accelerated the process.

Medical marijuana has been legal in Colorado following a successful 2000 ballot measure. However, until a 2007 court decision lifted limits on the number of patients that a given doctor could service, it was an afterthought industry. Now medical marijuana has become a booming business that services tens of thousands of Coloradans daily.

Even after the Colorado legislature imposed new limits on medical marijuana caregivers last year, the ranks of medical pot cardholders continued to grow and small dispensaries have risen up across the state to meet market demands. While medical marijuana advocates griped that the new restrictions would kill a booming industry that has grown despite a bad economy, clearly the medical pot train is going to keep on rolling strong through the Centennial State.

All the money pouring into that industry should have been enough to scare Obama away from a hard line on medical marijuana. But Obama has sought to move towards the middle over the last year as he prepares to defend his title as President of the USA. That movement includes distancing himself from marijuana advocacy of any kind.

Barack won Colorado in 2008 and would certainly hope to do the same in 2012. But he has made a powerful enemy here by abandoning marijuana users that got registered, got up off the couch, and voted Obama three years ago. His administration's new attacks on medical marijuana dispensaries will certainly keep those once-a-decade voters away from the polls next time around. Worse, it could funnel considerable campaign contributions away from Obama and to one of his pro-liberty challengers on the other side of the aisle.

Ron Paul, a Texas Congressman, managed to build a considerable grassroots movement across a broad political spectrum in his 2008 run for president. His 2012 campaign is already well underway, and his support for marijuana legalization may draw former Obama supporters to the Paul campaign along with their newfound medical pot wealth. If Paul plays his cards right, he could end up being the conservative answer to Obama's '08 grassroots run, and Barack has already been kind enough to gently shove an increasingly strong marijuana lobby towards Ron's camp.

In Colorado at least, marijuana advocates have answered Obama's opening salvo with a declaration that they will not back down. The 2012 Colorado General Election ballot may well carry both a presidential ticket featuring the once-loved liberal darling, and a citizens' initiative that directly counters his changing views on the hot-button issue of marijuana legalization.

Let the Great Marijuana Showdown begin.

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News Hawk- Jacob Ebel 420 MAGAZINE
Source: examiner.com
Author: Ian Cerveny
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Copyright: Clarity Digital Group LLC
Website: Stage set for the Great Marijuana Showdown in Colorado
 
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