Colorado marijuana activists, undaunted by California’s failure to legalize the drug, said last week they are launching two separate campaigns to legalize marijuana for adults in 2012. The groups announced their intentions even as voters in more than two dozen Colorado municipalities decided last week to ban medical marijuana centers. But advocates who want to legalize the drug see hope in Colorado, one of 14 states where medical marijuana is legal, and where Denver voters approved an ordinance making marijuana possession the “lowest law-enforcement priority.”
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.
There are currently 16 states that allow some form of legalized medical marijuana, but only Colorado allows marijuana businesses to operate as such. It’s the first, and for the moment, only, for-profit marijuana marketplace in the U.S. Predictably, Colorado is in the midst of a marijuana boom. Between 2000—when Colorado voters legalized marijuana for medicinal purposes with Amendment 20—and 2008, Colorado issued roughly 2,000 medical marijuana cards to patients living in the state. By 2011 that number had jumped to over 127,000 paying customers, according to the Colorado Medical Marijuana Registry, and at least 25,000 more have applications pending.
While it is allowed in some form in 16 states and Washington, DC, Colorado is the leader in trying to make medicinal pot a legitimate business. It has been legal since a voter-approved amendment to the state constitution in 2000, but the for-profit side only took off two years ago after the legislature allowed individual counties and towns more flexibility in interpreting the rules. Over a hundred have done so.
Colorado has become the third state to ask the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration to reclassify marijuana in a way that allows doctors to prescribe it as a medical treatment. The state asked the Drug Enforcement Administration to reclassify marijuana from Schedule 1, a category that includes heroin, to Schedule 2. The change would allow doctors to prescribe pot and pharmacies to fill marijuana prescriptions. The governors of Rhode Island and Washington have made similar requests.
With a deadline looming at the end of this month in the most dramatic federal-state showdown yet in Colorado over marijuana, a state lawmaker has proposed a bill that would raise another cannabis clash. The bill aims to study using the growing of industrial hemp to clean polluted soil, a process known as phytoremediation. There is some evidence that hemp plants can suck toxic substances out of the ground. Growing hemp is illegal under federal law without approval from the Drug Enforcement Administration.
Colorado voters will be asked to decide whether to legalize the recreational use of marijuana in a November ballot measure, setting up a potential showdown with the federal government over America's most commonly used illicit drug. The measure, which would legalize possession of small amounts of marijuana by adults, is one of two that will go to voters in November after a Washington state initiative to legalize pot earned enough signatures last month to qualify for the ballot there.
Colorado's top federal prosecutor has ordered 25 medical marijuana shops located near schools to close in an escalating pot clampdown, as the state gears up for a battle at the ballot box over broader recreational use of the drug. Attorney John Walsh warned owners of the centers in letters that they have 45 days to shut down or "action will be taken to seize and forfeit their property," his office said.
With Obama facing a stiff challenge from Republican Mitt Romney in the November 6 election, it's ironic that his chances of winning the key state of Colorado could hinge on marijuana legalization, supported by a growing number of Americans. At issue is whether Obama will get a boost from young voters expected to be among the most enthusiastic backers of a Colorado ballot initiative that would legalize possession of up to an ounce of pot for recreational use - and give the state the most liberal marijuana law in the nation.
They're not talking about the landmark health care ruling. They're talking about last week's Arizona immigration ruling, in which the court reiterated a foundation of American law - that states can't buck the federal government. "Arizona may have understandable frustrations" with federal inaction on immigration, the justices wrote, "but the state may not pursue policies that undermine federal law."
History was made as the Oregon Secretary of State announced that the Oregon Cannabis Tax Act turned in enough valid signatures to qualify for the 2012 ballot. Oregon joins Washington and Colorado in voting for marijuana legalization this year, the first time in history three U.S. states will put the legalization question to voters. Here is a look at the three legalization measures to be put before the voters in the November 2012 election.
Should marijuana be legalized for recreational use by adults? That is the question that voters in three states are considering this November. Colorado, Washington and Oregon all have ballot measures that, if passed, would end marijuana prohibition in their state. Colorado's Amendment 64 which seeks the legalization of marijuana for adults age 21 and older appears to be popular among voters. A recent poll from Rasmussen showed that 61 percent of likely Colorado voters are in favor of legalizing marijuana if it is regulated the way that alcohol and cigarettes are currently regulated.
A majority of Colorado voters support a ballot measure to legalize limited possession of marijuana, according to a new Denver Post poll. The poll found that the measure, Amendment 64, has the support of 51 percent of likely voters surveyed, compared with 40 percent opposed. While several previous polls have found more support for Amendment 64 than opposition, the Post's survey is the first independent poll to find more than 50 percent support.
A catchy pro-marijuana jingle for Colorado voters considering legalizing the drug goes like this: "Jobs for our people. Money for schools. Who could ask for more?" It's a bit more complicated than that in the three states - Colorado, Oregon and Washington - that could become the first to legalize marijuana this fall. The debate over how much tax money recreational marijuana laws could produce is playing an outsize role in the campaigns for and against legalization - and both sides concede they're not really sure what would happen.
In Oregon - a state with one of the nation's highest rates of pot use and a reputation for pushing the boundaries on marijuana laws - organizers are looking at a bank account with just $1,800. Marijuana activists who have ploughed big bucks into campaigns in the other two states complain the Oregon measure is poorly written and doesn't poll well. It didn't qualify for the ballot until July, severely limiting the time available to sway voters. They also don't care for the man with a blemished record who's pushing Oregon's measure. More than $4 million has flowed to Washington and close to a million in Colorado.
When people go to the polls two weeks from now they won't just be voting for candidates, in some states, they'll be passing judgment on social issues. In Oregon, Washington and the Rocky Mountain state of Colorado it's the legalization of marijuana. Part of this has to do with cash-starved governments looking for new things to tax for more revenue. But much of it has to do with the growing acceptance or at least tolerance for a drug that was once considered the devil's weed and a flashpoint for cultural and generational warfare.
If you live in Colorado, Washington or Oregon, your state may soon be the first in the nation to allow possession of marijuana—in limited quantities—for recreational use. It all depends on what happens Nov. 6. Pot is no stranger to the ballot in Colorado, where smokers consume more than two million ounces of marijuana each year and the state spends more than $40 million annually enforcing its prohibition. A ballot initiative to legalize marijuana failed 59% to 41% in 2006, six years after a referendum approved medical marijuana for use in the state.
Voters approved Amendment 64 legalizing recreational marijuana use in Colorado on Tuesday, making this one of two states to end prohibition of the drug but also raising new legal questions and setting up potential court battles. Among the opponents was Gov. John Hickenlooper, who said that "the voters have spoken and we have to respect their will. This will be a complicated process, but we intend to follow through. That said, federal law still says marijuana is an illegal drug so don't break out the Cheetos or gold fish too quickly."
Colorado and Washington became the first U.S. states to legalize the possession and sale of marijuana for recreational use in defiance of federal law, setting the stage for a possible showdown with the Obama administration. Another ballot measure to remove criminal penalties for personal possession and cultivation of recreational cannabis was defeated in Oregon. The Drug Policy Alliance, a national advocacy group that backed the initiatives, said the outcome in Washington and Colorado reflected growing national support for liberalized pot laws.
Those who have argued for decades that legalizing and taxing weed would be better than a costly, failed U.S. drug war have their chance to prove it, as Colorado and Washington became the first states to allow pot for recreational use. While the measures earned support from broad swaths of the electorate in both states, they are likely to face resistance from federal drug warriors. As of Wednesday, authorities did not say whether they would challenge the new laws.