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.
A new marijuana legalization ballot measure was cleared Monday to start seeking petition signatures. But its proponents aren't affiliated with the Oakland-based backers of last year's Proposition 19, who intend to mount a 2012 initiative of their own. The state attorney general's official summary says the measure, named by its proponents as "The Regulate Marijuana Like Wine Act of 2012," would decriminalize marijuana sales, distribution, possession, use, cultivation, processing and transportation by people at least 21 years old.
King County authorities and the Washington State Public Stadium Authority have agreed to stop harassing people collecting signatures outside the Seahawks football stadium for an initiative that would legalize and tax recreational marijuana in the state. One of the collectors, Benjamin Schroeter, was arrested Nov. 13 after he refused an order to stop collecting signatures for Initiative 502 in a public area outside the stadium where fans were tailgating.
An initiative seeking to legalize and regulate the recreational use of marijuana will be decided by voters. If passed, Initiative 502 would make Washington the first state to legalize recreational use of marijuana. It would place the state at odds with federal law, which bans marijuana use of all kinds. Rep. Sam Hunt, D-Olympia, who chairs the House State Government & Tribal Affairs Committee that was considering the initiative, said the Legislature would not act on it, meaning it will instead automatically appear on the November ballot.
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.
After Proposition 19 received 46% of the vote in 2010, proponents took heart. They vowed to put a measure to fully legalize marijuana on the 2012 ballot. Instead, four camps vie for funding. Just weeks before the deadline for state ballot initiatives, the effort to put a marijuana legalization measure before voters in the general election is in disarray as the federal government cracks down on medical cannabis and activists are divided on their goals.
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."
Oregon will soon qualify as the third U.S. state to ask voters in November to legalize marijuana for recreational use in a move that could put the state on a collision course with the federal government. Backers of the Oregon Cannabis Tax Act said they have collected 165,000 signatures on petitions seeking to put the measure on the ballot, nearly double the 87,000 they were required to submit by Friday's deadline to qualify.
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.
The initiative to legalize, tax and regulate marijuana in Washington, Initiative 502, was estimated on Friday to raise up to $1.9 billion in new tax revenue over five years — or zero. The wild swing, included in an analysis by the state Office of Financial Management, reflects broad uncertainty about the potential federal intervention in an initiative that would set up the nation's first regulated market for recreational marijuana use.
The marijuana reform community in Washington State has become severely fractured, with various groups running competing initiatives and taking opposing positions on whether the state should be in the dispensary licensing business. The most recent debate is over I-502 by New Approach Washington, which tried to tailor it to receive the most possible support. In addition to setting up a state licensing system for marijuana production and sales, it would criminalize driving with more than 5 nanograms of THC per milliliter of blood in the system. Some medical marijuana patients oppose that, saying it's an arbitrary limit and they'd never be able to drive. (See also: Legalize marijuana? Like this?)
Nine former heads of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration urged Attorney General Eric Holder to take a stand against possible legalization of recreational marijuana in three western states, saying silence would convey acceptance. The former officials said that legalization would pose a direct conflict with federal law, indicating there would be a clash between the states and the federal government on the issue. Voters in Colorado, Washington state and Oregon are due to decide in November whether to legalize marijuana for recreational use and to regulate and tax its sale.
As Washington weighs its first chance to legalize recreational marijuana, prominent groups are taking sides about the initiative's potential impact on children. Initiative 502 got an unexpected vote of confidence from the Children's Alliance, a Seattle-based advocacy group with more than 100 social-service agencies as members. The Alliance's board voted to endorse I-502 for a specific reason: Children in minority households pay "a terrible price" for racially biased enforcement of marijuana laws.
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.
On Nov. 6 Washington voters will decide whether to directly confront the federal ban on marijuana and embrace a sprawling plan to legalize, regulate and tax sales at state-licensed pot stores. Would the Obama administration pick a legal fight over states' rights to try to block Initiative 502? Would federal prosecutors charge marijuana growers and retailers, even if they are authorized by state law? Or would — as some opponents and supporters predict — federal authorities denounce the law but largely leave Washington alone?
In its fiscal note on I-502, the state Office of Financial Management estimated the total state and local government revenue from marijuana at $566 million. That’s roughly what the state budgets in taxpayer money for its six universities. Most of the marijuana money, however, would be earmarked for health-related spending (see chart). Putting I-502 into effect would also save the money now spent on law enforcement. The bottom line: Legalizing marijuana offers government a pot of money, both in revenue and in savings.