A shows that a slim majority of Colorado voters favor a fall ballot effort to legalize marijuana. There are two proposed constitution amendments.
Initiative 30 and Legalize 2012
Here in Colorado, we have two interesting possibilities.
What Happens To the Med. Marijuana Industry If Initiative 30 Becomes a Reality?
Actually, very little.
The would still be deeply involved in the business. Taxation would be a major function of that agency, which would continue to police and tax the industry. The proposed constitutional amendment, known as Initiative 30, would mirror a great deal of the current “medical marijuana” system with the exception that the “medical need” for pot would be removed. However, there would still be limits on the amount of marijuana that a person could possess at any one time (one ounce) and limits on what could be grown (a familiar limitation: six viable plants with only three flowering, just as the medical system provides). In short, big pot business would continue its stranglehold on the marijuana business, dropping the word “medical” from its title.
Selling a Sin-Based Product
Initiative 30 is a familiar way of doing business in Colorado: big business selling a “sin-based” product (gambling, horse racing and alcohol) to a blind public:
- The sin-based industry (marijuana) would still be heavily taxed by the Colorado Department of Revenue and the state would derive substantial revenue from the industry.
- The state would continue to maintain a registry of marijuana users.
- The driving laws would be changed to allow for mandatory blood draws to determine pot use for drivers suspected of driving under the influence of marijuana.
- Just like liquor (also regulated by the Department of Revenue), an aspiring pot user must be 21 under the new scheme.
- Finally, and not surprising, the existing medical marijuana centers would receive special treatment under the new law by the Colorado Department of Revenue.
Legalize 2012 Aspires to Return the Marijuana Business to the People
The other proposed constitutional amendment (Legalize 2012) is very informal, and it is not terribly well organized and funded (unlike the industry-driven Initiative 30). Legalized 2012 aspires to:
- Abolish limits on cultivation and amounts of possession
- Reduce the minimum age for legal marijuana possession to 18
- De-regulate the industry and not give special treatment to medical marijuana centers
- End the current registry programs.
However the latter initiative is not on the ballot, and is only supported by a loosely knit group of web buddies. They do not like the Colorado Department of Revenue and want a more (no pun intended) grass roots approach. I like to think of this as Ron Paul Running the Pot Biz.
Which Amendment Has the Best Chance of Passing?
While Legalize 2012 is more attractive to all of us “no more government” types, the more viable approach appears to be with Initiative 30. While my preference is to always keep the governemnt out of people’s lives, and to leave the public with as many rights as possible, I am realistic. The Colorado Department of Revenue (or the State Department of Sin, Regulate and Tax) has turned into a highly developed regulatory agency that gives some measure of credibility to an industry that lacks credibility.
I lean toward Initiative 30 for a very important reason. Think: vote splitting is pretty dumb. The big problem with having two proposals on the ballot is this: two different proposed Colorado constitutional amendments (Intiative 30 and Legalize 2012) will split the pot vote and guarantee defeat. Proponents of each proposal need to work together to present one, harmonious front. Otherwise, legalization is doomed. And how happy would that make the Colorado Department of Revenue?
Denver criminal defense attorney Shaun Kaufman handles cases involving marijuana possession, cultivation, distribution, as well as dispensary law. Shaun fights for his clients regardless of where they live or where they’ve been charged. He practices in Denver, the “Front Range,” and throughout the state of Colorado.
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