2012 ballot could legalize marijuana
Colorado leads the way for legal reform
Published: Tuesday, January 31, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, February 1, 2012 01:02
With several potential amendments shaping up to combat marijuana prohibition, Colorado is one of several states that may pass significant marijuana reform laws in 2012. With legalization showing strong support so far, activists are speculating that this may be the year marijuana laws are altered to accommodate recreational users.
The Colorado Medical Marijuana Registry was passed in 2000 as Amendment 20, which allows medical patients with debilitating conditions to register a medical marijuana card and purchase the medicine legally. This year, Colorado voters will ask themselves whether similar or even more liberal freedoms will be given to those without medical need.
Denver was the first city in the nation to draw comparison between marijuana and alcohol use in 2005 with a law that made legal the possession of the drug by those 21 and over. The next year brought the first statewide bid for similar regulations, but Amendment 44 was rejected by a 60 percent majority, according to CNN.com. However, legalization activists are searching for other ways to change Colorado marijuana regulation.
"I think Colorado is ready to create a legal market for weed because it's safer than alcohol and we have more important issues," said CU Denver student Crystal Baum.
On the front lines is the Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Act, which does pretty much exactly what the name implies. The law will legalize the production of industrial hemp and the use of marijuana by adults, as well as create a legal, regulated market for it. Supporters of Initiative 30 claim that it will not only defer law enforcement to more serious crimes, but will also bring in revenue for the state in the form of taxation. However, some marijuana legalization activists disagree with the initiative, asserting that regulation is not true legalization because it still allows for criminal penalties.
In an effort to decriminalize marijuana completely, Michelle Lamay drafted an alternative initiative for the ballot. The founder of Cannabis University, which provides marijuana cultivation education, received title approval from the state board on Jan. 18 for a simple resolution to Colorado marijuana laws and regulation. Initiative 40, which is tentatively called the Relief for Possession of Cannabis Act, would prohibit courts from imposing any sentences or fines for the possession of cannabis.
"I am pro-legalization, but I'm still skeptical about Initiative 40 because it doesn't place a limit on the amount of cannabis someone can have," said UCD student Byll Goodwin.
Lamay has said that the initiative will focus campaigning on rural areas as well as on those who are undecided on the issue.
The Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Act has already submitted nearly twice the number of required signatures to appear on the Nov. 6 ballot, which indicates strong support for Initiative 40 as well. And when Coloradans vote on Nov. 6, 2012, the results on marijuana law will no doubt shape the rest of the nation's decision.