Colorado Voters to Face Legal Marijuana Issue on November Ballot
Legal marijuana moved a step closer to reality in Colorado this week when supporters of a move to put a legalization initiative on the ballot this year produced more than 160,000 signatures.
While the signatures need to be certified by the Colorado Secretary of State, the total number is nearly double the 86,500 signatures required by state law.
The signed petitions, which were taken to the Secretary of State’s office on Thursday, are the first step in putting the proposition of legalizing marijuana in Colorado on the November ballot.
Calling their effort “The Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol”, supporters of the initiative want to legalize possession of marijuana up to an ounce for “any purpose” for people over the age of 21. The measure would also allow people to cultivate up to six plants in their homes. It would, however, be illegal to consume marijuana in public.
According to sponsors of the initiative, including Brian Vicente of Sensible Colorado and Mason Tvert of SAFER Colorado, the restrictions on marijuana would be stricter than those currently governing alcohol consumption.
Supporters claim that legalizing marijuana would be a revenue bonanza for the state in the same way that regulating the medical marijuana industry has resulted in millions of dollars into the state’s coffers.
In addition, a 2011 poll of Colorado residents found more than 50 percent of them favored legalizing marijuana for use by adults.
The presentation of the petition to the Secretary of State is one of two significant recent developments involving marijuana in Colorado. In December, the executive director of the Colorado Department of Revenue wrote a letter to head of the Drug Enforcement Administration asking that the federal government recognize the “potential medicinal value” of marijuana and relax some of their rules regarding its use and sale.
Executive Director Barbara Brohl’s request makes Colorado the third state in the nation to ask that the federal government alter its stance on medical marijuana, joining Rhode Island and Washington.
The conflict between Colorado’s laws regarding medical marijuana and the federal laws regarding marijuana have been a point of contention since the local laws were passed.
“As long as there is divergence in state and federal law,” Brohl wrote in her letter, “there is a lack of certainty necessary to provide safe access for patients with serious medical conditions”.