While most cannabis supporters in Colorado agree that legalization is the ultimate goal, there's heavy disagreement on how to get there. Last month, attorney Brian Vicente and Mason Tvert fired up first, submitting ballot language to the state. That prompted an outcry from other groups, including the Cannabis Therapy Institute, about being left out of discussions. To hash things out, the CTI organized the Great Legalization Debate of 2012 on June 22 at Casselman's, where representatives of the five (so far) proposals were slated to discuss their ideas. Here's a quick look at where they stand:

Proposal: Free Colorado Cannabis Act

Proponent: Corey Donahue

Donahue has worked with several human-rights organizations. He insists that current marijuana laws are a violation of people's human rights, and says that other proposals — specifically the legalization initiative filed by Mason Tvert and Brian Vicente in May — aren't real legalization, but rather "softening the blow of criminalization," and might actually create more crimes by including language about taxation and regulation. "I am working to make sure my amendment is as freedom-expanding as possible," he says. "I don't want to put restrictions on people."

Proposal highlights: Complete legalization of cannabis without restrictions on possession amounts for adults 18 years and older; no registry — cannabis purchases treated similarly to alcohol; sales tax; creation of 4/20 as an official state holiday; the release of anyone incarcerated for marijuana offenses in the state; rewording Colorado law to change "marijuana" and "marihuana" to cannabis.

Proposal: Colorado Safer Communities & Health Initiative

Proponent: Reverend Brandon Baker

Baker, a third-generation cannabis farmer, says his views on marijuana laws were shaped at a young age, when he watched his father's home raided by police. The fact that he can grow marijuana legally as a caregiver while his father is still considered a criminal is absurd, he says. Baker's relatively simple proposal was honed through months of discussions with peers in person and on Facebook; basically, he explains, it's the same tax and regulation system that applies to home brewers. In fact, the language would be nearly identical, with any reference to brewing replaced by language regarding cannabis cultivation. Penalties for illegal wholesale, retail or manufacturing would mirror alcohol violations, and all language making cannabis illegal would be eliminated.

Proposal highlights: Eight plant and eight-ounce limit for personal amounts, more for retail; legal for adults 18 years and older; all language making marijuana illegal in Colorado removed from revised statutes and Colorado Controlled Substances act; potential clemency/pardons for all non-violent cannabis convictions; industrial hemp legalized, subject only to existing agricultural zoning laws; tax revenue to be spent on industry oversight, public schools, Medicaid and "community betterment programs."

Proposal: Use and Regulation of Marijuana

Proponent: Mason Tvert

Tvert and marijuana lawyer Brian Vicente got the jump on other proposals by filing their proposed ballot measure in May. Tvert is best known as the head of the SAFER campaign, which has challenged everyone to think about marijuana as a safer substitute to alcohol. SAFER's 2006 attempt to legalize marijuana in the state failed; the 2007 campaign to decriminalize the plant in Denver gained voter approval. This go-round, his proposal is backed by a coalition of several groups. "I got into this issue because I cannot stand to see people's lives disrupted and even ruined solely for using a substance that is far safer than alcohol," Tvert says. "I've had my life disrupted and know many, many other people who have undergone scrutiny or punishment for marijuana."

Proposal highlights: Legal for 21 and up; remove penalties for up to one ounce of marijuana and allow adults to grow up to six plants (three mature) and keep all marijuana produced even if over one ounce; DOR regulated; no database — just show your ID, like liquor; industrial hemp legalized; state must allow for licensed retail stores as well as cultivation, manufacturing and testing facilities; state can enact up to 15 percent tax on wholesale sales.

Proposal name: The Cannabis and Hemp Relegalization Act

Proponent: Laura Kriho

Kriho has been one of Colorado's most outspoken marijuana activists since her first campaign to legalize industrial and recreational cannabis use in the state in 1992; that initiative failed to gain the needed signatures to get on the ballot. From 1995 to 1997, as an aide to former state senator Lloyd Casey, she spearheaded another campaign to legalize industrial hemp. In 2010 Kriho helped form the Cannabis Therapy Institute to "address the issues with medical marijuana laws." She notes that her proposed ballot measure does not set limits, but leaves regulation up to the intent of the user. "Any time you create a number [limit], you create a position for law enforcement to weigh against that limit," she says. "We want to get away from tracking and counting and weighing. If you leave it to intent...it is a lot fairer to the user than if you put some arbitrary number on the limit."

Proposal highlights: Abolition of all current marijuana-related crimes; potential clemency/pardon of past marijuana-related convictions, dependent on an "independent cannabis commission" of seven to nine members appointed by the governor and made up of cannabis experts; possession amounts based on intent (retail, wholesale, personal use); legalization of industrial hemp.

Proposal name: The Danish Plan

Proponent: Paul Danish

Danish, a former Boulder city councilman and current columnist for the Boulder Weekly, has been outspoken in his opposition to the War on Drugs. His approach to the legalization of marijuana in Colorado isn't exactly legalization; instead, it leans more toward heavy decriminalization without forcing politically squeamish voters to decide on whether or not to legalize marijuana outright.

Proposal highlights: Not a legalization bill; would constitutionally prevent the punishment for use and possession in the state; would allow cultivation of up to six plants; would allow the legislature to "adopt laws providing for the regulated sale of marijuana and for its production for sale and for its taxation."

Proposal: No Name Yet

Proponent: Rico Colibri

Colibri serves as the vice president of the Association of Cannabis Trades. He has been a patient and caregiver in Colorado for nearly ten years, and like Donahue sees the legalization of marijuana as a human-rights issue. He points out that drug laws are often disproportionately applied to minorities and the poor and that legalizing marijuana would end the criminalization of those groups in large numbers. "We need to pull the power away from the cartels that are turning inner-city neighborhoods into Beirut," he explains. Proposal highlights: Model based on tobacco regulation, locks in business licensing fees no higher than current tobacco fees; sets legal age at 21; allows for eight flowering plants and up to a quarter-pound for each individual and a half-pound for a household every month; earmarks taxes for drug rehab, education and health care.

Proposal: The "Inalienable Right" model.

Proponent: Kathleen Chippi

In the early '90s, Chippi was the first person to produce and package hemp foods, selling them in grocery stores under the brand Heavenly Hemp Foods. Chippi says her life as a cannabis activist stems from her religious belief in cannabis as the Tree of Life; she's formed her own church, Closer to the Heart Ministries, based on those ideas. She worries that the cannabis community in Colorado lacks cohesion, and hopes the debate is the start of a more open dialogue. Her plan is to rework Article 2, Section 3 of the Colorado Constitution to include the use and right to grow cannabis as a fundamental human right.

Proposal highlights: Does not limit age or plant count.

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I think legalize it, tax it, and make the drug testing companies find a component in the mj that will test a current level of intoxication so, you will not be fired from your job.


Spain allows any adult to grow 5 pot plants for their own personal use. The stores there sell seeds to adults. However, in the US we wont legalize pot until we learn how to have public transportation. DUI for pot is stupid...on the part of the stoned driver. Unfortunately, we do stupid all too well. We do public transportation not well at all.


On June 17, 1971, President Nixon told Congress that "if we cannot destroy the drug menace in America, then it will surely destroy us." However, after forty years of trying to destroy "the drug menace in America" we still *haven't* been able to destroy it and it still *hasn't* destroyed us. Four decades is ample enough to realize that on this important issue President Nixon wrong! All actions taken as a result of his invalid and paranoid assumptions (e.g. the federal marijuana prohibition) should be ended immediately!

It makes no sense for taxpayers to fund the federal marijuana prohibition when it *doesn't* prevent people from using marijuana and it *does* make criminals incredibly wealthy and incite the Mexican drug cartels to murder thousands of people every year.

We need legal adult marijuana sales in supermarkets, gas stations and pharmacies for exactly the same reason that we need legal alcohol and tobacco sales - to keep unscrupulous black-market criminals out of our neighborhoods and away from our children. Marijuana must be made legal to sell to adults everywhere that alcohol and tobacco are sold.


As for the plant limits--they're a prescription for disaster. In order to keep even a small, healthy farm going, you're going to need to clone, and that means more than six or eight "plants." Allow me to explain.

As Amendment 20 now stands, patients are allowed to grow six plants, three of them flowering females. So what growers are expected to do is to vegetate three plants from seed, then flower them. Easy, right? No. Varied genetics of seed provides poor stock and wastes resources necessary for growing under lights, making the medicine expensive on the scale of illegal brick weed.

The best way is to take cuttings from a mother plant--say, 18-to-24. Then anywhere from 6-to-24 candidates may root. Of those, the most robust few can be chosen to transplant and vegetate for several weeks. The best candidates from those can be chosen to flower. So, in order to get three outstanding flowering plants with great genetics, it's probably going to require something more on the order of 33 "plants" (~24 cuttings + mother, plus ~6 vegging, plus 3 flowering) to meet the intent of Amendment 20.

THAT, though, is for three plants under one light. You will get good genetics, and outstanding plants, but you still won't get the best yield for your energy production. The best way to do that is something called "sea of green."

With "sea of green," instead of vegging plants for weeks and weeks, you take all of the best rooted clones (say, a dozen or two) and put them, small, under one light, and basically grow right to flower, growing one cola each, in a much shorter time. Doing this, you maximize the effect of light over a shorter time, and increase output. You don't necessarily mass-produce, but you effectively use a small amount of light. You might even end up with a similar overall amount, but MUCH cheaper. The problem? The plant total is going to be more like 50.

What am I really saying? THE PLANT COUNT DOESN'T MEAN ANYTHING. The actual CURED PRODUCT that's produced is what means something.

PROPOSAL: Any sensible initiative will drop plant limits in favor of sensible product limits, where the voters feel limits are absolutely necessary (I don't.) If you want a grower to be limited to eight ounces, then make the limit eight ounces cured, and forget the plant count. If you must limit the plant count, make it a number like 99--the figure the DEA uses to decide whether to go after a grower, because fewer just isn't "worth it" to them. For comfortable margin, maybe it could be 50.

Colorado Mmj Patient
Colorado Mmj Patient

I like Paul Danish's approach, especially since it follows the KISS principle.


You people are killing the Quality of marijuana by trying to commercialize it. Its only a second after this happens that Marlboro and Camel take over the industry. Producing low grade marijuana. Marijuana is an Ancient plant, it is living and breathing and also has sacred rituals of growing and using it, if your energy is negative, your product will be as well. Its apparent at every single dispensary in this State of Colorado. That Greed and Money are behind this venture which completely kills the positive and healing properties of this herb. It is also the number one cash crop for the Mexican Drug Cartels which has fueled the world with guns, gangs, violence and negative energy.


It's time. Prohibition needs to end now. Legalize, tax and regulate.

Boulder Med Cannabis
Boulder Med Cannabis

good post. we can't limit both, plant numbers and weight. it just doesn't work.

3 plants will produce more than the proposed limits, but if growing each round from seed, that 8 ounces is going to have to last a long time.


Pharma and Tobacco are already taking over by stealth. Even though universities have been unable to get licenses to research cannabis, pharma has moved into that territory. It won't be long before the feds make cozy deals like those that were made at the end of prohibition, which were just as you fear.

These LOCAL legalization movements are specifically to jumpstart a culture in Colorado where the people appreciate their rights to access the natural plant, without cartels, genetic modification and patents for the pigopoly to own.

Sarcasmus the Magnificent
Sarcasmus the Magnificent

Absolute bullshit. Legalization is killing the quality of marijuana? These medical laws have created more home and small-retail growers than ever existed before and there is more high quality cannabis available than ever. There is better cannabis more widely available now than at any point in Colorado history and you know it. Are there a lot of growers who are just learning? Sure. The thing is that they become expert very, very quickly.

I realize you are pissed because you can't rape people for $400.00/oz for your stash anymore, but leave the drug cartel lies to the fucking Feds, ok, Chumley? For you to claim that mexican Drig Gangs have ANY connection to MMCs who grow their own product is nothing but horseshit.


Or just legalize... who likes taxes and regulations?