The fight for and against Amendment 64, the Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol act, is entering its final stages -- and Roger Sherman, campaign director for Smart Colorado, the No on 64 movement, admits that he can't compete with proponents when it comes to resources. So he's countering with events and op-eds. See examples and get Sherman's take on the race below.
According to Sherman, the pro-64 camp "is outspending us four to one on media, which makes me nervous."
However, he goes on, "we have a pretty active group of volunteers who are still knocking on doors and canvassing neighborhoods, trying to keep up with them as best we can based on resources."
When it comes to media, No on 64 isn't currently running any TV ads, unlike the other side, which has been rolling out plenty of them. But Sherman and company do have a radio spot featuring former Colorado governors Bill Owens and Bill Ritter, a Republican and a Democrat, respectively, who both urge voters to reject the act. Here's a video version of the commercial.
"It's a pretty good ad," Sherman believes, "but we don't have as much in the way of resources" to get it heard. Even so, he says "donations are still rolling in," and he hopes to "increase the frequency of the ad between now and election day."
In the meantime, No on 64 is coming up with other ways to get its message across. Example: At 10:30 a.m. today in Stapleton, at the corner of Central Park Boulevard and Martin Luther King, three mothers -- Henny Lasley, Sandra Hagen Solin and Amy Sporer Caplis (a former CBS4 anchor and wife of talk-show personality Dan Caplis) -- will star in a press conference during which they'll describe why they're against Amendment 64.
In addition, Sherman has penned an opinion piece that he's making available to publications around the state. It follows another op-ed from school board members and parents. See both of them below in their entirety.
Despite the spending deficit, Sherman describes himself "cautiously optimistic" that Amendment 64 will come up short at the ballot box. "Every indication we're seeing, including some internal polling, shows support dropping precipitously.
"At this point, it's a race to the finish," he adds. "You just keep at it up until election day."
Legalizing marijuana is not a simple question By Roger Sherman
Legalizing the sale, possession and use of marijuana in Colorado by passing Amendment 64 is not simply a question of whether we think it's appropriate for Coloradans to smoke pot. Amendment 64 raises serious questions about the proper role of our state constitution, the effect liberalizing our marijuana law will have beyond our state borders and whether we want to defy existing federal law.
The U.S. Constitution, which many people consider the finest, most succinct legal document ever written, is distinguished by the limited number of issues that its 27 amendments address. They almost all deal with extremely important -- foundational -- issues. Colorado's constitution, by contrast, has been amended more than 150 times for issues both great and small.
Colorado voters already approved a constitutional amendment legalizing the use of marijuana for medicinal uses. Its provisions conflict with some of the provisions in Amendment 64. Bringing them into sync will require expensive litigation that a cash- strapped state cannot afford - or, even worse, another constitutional amendment.
There's not enough space or time here to enumerate all of Amendment 64's potential unintended consequences. A few include: the damage to our image as we become the marijuana capital of the country; the likelihood that Colorado will be a magnet for out-of-staters coming in to purchase and transmit pot to other places where it is legal; and the likelihood that in impaired driving traffic fatalities will increase.
Lastly, even with Amendment 64, use, possession and sale of marijuana will still be illegal under federal law. That's confusing to our citizens and it sets our state up for expensive federal lawsuits.
It's important that Coloradans are talking about whether legalizing marijuana is a good idea, but it is a dialogue and decision that properly should be taking place on a national level.
Roger Sherman is campaign director for Smart Colorado, an issue committee opposed to Amendment 64.
Letter to the editor from school-board members and parents
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As school board members and parents in the fastest growing urban district in the country, we understand the struggles Colorado students are facing. While demographics and specific issues may be different in our communities, providing our children with an excellent education and the tools they need to succeed in the future are a shared aspiration.
Our students are dealing with a lot. Their world is an uncertain place and the challenges they face growing into adulthood require their full, unimpaired attention. Making access to marijuana easier, as Amendment 64 would do, adds one more challenge to their already-full plates and makes our jobs as parents and teachers much harder.
That's why parents and teachers are joining together with elected officials and other community leaders and groups to oppose Amendment 64. In fact, the Colorado Education Association recently announced their opposition to the amendment. This amendment to the Colorado constitution would legalize possession and use of up to an ounce of pot.
That's enough to roll 60 joints - enough to get more than an entire classroom of Colorado students too high to concentrate on the important work of learning.
The amendment specifies that only adults 21 and older could buy and use marijuana, but we have to assume that it would be pretty much the same situation as we have currently in which any semi-determined teenager, can already easily get marijuana -- and do. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) estimates that by the time they graduate from high school, 42 percent of teenagers will have tried marijuana, and that's under current law, which prohibits it. In 2009, 16.7 million Americans 12 and older acknowledged they'd used marijuana at least once in the last month, and one in ten teenagers admitted to using pot at least 20 times a month.
Teachers and school administrators have already been forced to spend more time dealing with drug problems rather than focusing on the classroom. Colorado's Department of Education reports that school expulsions because of marijuana-associated drug violations are rising. Since Colorado approved medical marijuana in 2009, suspensions for public school drug violations have soared 45 percent, expulsions are up 35 percent and police referrals by 17 percent. Legalizing pot will not change this picture. In fact, things will get worse in schools because with increased access, drug policy analysts anticipate marijuana use doubling among young people ages 12 to 25.
Troubling information, but there are worse problems to consider. Marijuana hurts our children's health and their minds. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, marijuana is additive. Thousands of young people who should be learning in schoolrooms are, instead, in rehab programs; 67 percent of them are there for marijuana abuse. Solid scientific research shows that pot smoking not only damages lungs it also shows that marijuana use permanently affects adolescent's brain development and harms their learning ability. Marijuana makes teenagers -- already dealing with hormone induced moodiness and difficult peer pressure -- more prone to depression and suicide.
Finally, there's the driving question. Inexperienced teen drivers sometimes make risky decisions. We already have problems with teenage drinking and driving. Marijuana and driving don't mix, either, because pot affects perception, coordination and reaction time. We need Colorado's youth sitting safely in our classrooms, clear-eyed, engaged and absolutely unimpaired, tackling the challenge and responsibility of becoming educated, productive citizens. Stand by our kids. Vote no on Amendment 64.
Allegra "Happy Haynes Vice President Denver Board of Education
Nate Easley Secretary Denver Board of Education
Anne Rowe Treasurer Denver Board of Education GW parent
Liz Palmquist Parent, East High
Michele Olree Parent, South High, Cory, and Merrill
Cindy Sawyer Parent, East High
More from our Marijuana archive: "Marijuana: Ken Buck says Amendment 64 backers care more about profit than people."