To Legalize or Not To Legalize: The Pros and Cons of Amendment 64By Jake Browne
On Nov. 7, voters in Colorado will be asked to consider whether or not they want their state to be one of the first to legalize marijuana use by adults—not just patients—and weigh in on Amendment 64 (A64), spearheaded by the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol. The question on many patients’ minds is: “How does it affect us?” Here are some of the things both sides are saying.
If A64 passes . . .
—The personal use, possession and growing of marijuana would be legal in Colorado for adults 21 and older.
—(Non-medical) marijuana would be taxed and regulated.
—The sale, cultivation and processing of industrial (non-psychoactive) hemp would be legalized.
—Legal marijuana establishments—such as storefronts and cultivation facilities—would be created.
The Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol’s Mason Tvert describes the initiative as one that would “remove all [state] penalties for possession and home growing of limited amounts of marijuana for all adults 21 and over, and would establish a system where marijuana is regulated similar to alcohol.” In a state that is well versed in the ins-and-outs of MMJ sales, Colorado seems like an ideal state to give legalization a shot for those like Tvert. He’s no stranger to the medical side of things, either. In Arizona, Tvert was the campaign director for Arizonans for Medical Marijuana and found his passion for drug policy reform. As co-author of Marijuana is Safer: So Why are We Driving People to Drink? and executive director of SAFER (Safer Alternative For Enjoyable Recreation), he moved into broader territory. He didn’t forget his roots, however.
“We ultimately spent six months drafting Amendment 64,” he says, “during which time we sought feedback from dozens of medical marijuana business owners, employees, patients, attorneys who specialize [in] medical marijuana laws.” Tvert says many have told him they would prefer to access cannabis by just showing ID rather than being a state-registered patient.
If A64 passes . . .
—The local medical marijuana industry will be decimated—or destroyed.
—Cities and towns will be allowed to ban marijuana sales.
—The excise tax will not stand in court, thus no revenue.
— Cannabis will still be illegal under federal law. There is nothing in A64 that will prevent federal intervention.
Rico Colibri, president of C.A.R.E. (Cannabis Alliance for Regulation & Education) isn’t behind Amendment 64, saying it will demolish the state’s compassionate industry, among other things. In a statement to CULTURE, Colibri says that A64, among a laundry list of things, is designed to shut medical marijuana down, noting that a “A64 fiscal impact white paper predicts a 79 percent defection in registered MMJ patients to the recreational market,” adding, “No MMJ centers can survive such a decline in the MMJ market.”
Colibri says he’s also concerned about another issue that has come up for the past two years in the legislature, and one that Sen. Steve King (R–Grand Junction) has promised to put back on the table in 2012: driving under the influence, or DUID.
While Amendment 64 doesn’t alter Colorado’s existing DUI laws, the fear is that such laws could be changed (this was attempted twice already) so that sober patients—or marijuana users for that matter—could be considered under the influence just for having small cannabis in their systems and arrested.
“Amendment 64 enshrines ‘driving while under the influence’ [any amount over zero] and ‘driving while impaired’ into our constitution, by deferring to current State DUID limits [which] could prevent MMJ patients and otherwise responsible adults who consume cannabis from legally driving,” Colibri says.
Ultimately, Colibri says he’s planning on voting against Amendment 64, and is “advising others to do their homework.”
As with most issues on the ballot, there is little black or white.