As we've reported, a protest against marijuana taxation measure Proposition AA is scheduled to take place at 11 a.m. today on Boulder's Pearl Street Mall, complete with free joints for attendees.
The event, and an invitation for Vice President Joe Biden to participate, has already come under fire from the Yes on Proposition AA campaign, but co-organizer Rob Corry (seen here) defends it. Get both takes, and see photos from the first free-joint protest, staged at Civic Center Park earlier this month.
Biden and his wife, Dr. Jill Biden, are expected to tour flood-ravaged portions of Boulder County today -- and since he'll be in the area, Corry sent a letter to the Vice President inviting him to take part in the free-joint handout. Why? Because "he already does just that through the Federal Compassionate New Drug Investigational Program," he told us via e-mail, adding, "We hope that Biden's visit to Colorado on the same day will bring more attention to this tax increase and will enhance our flood relief efforts."
Joe Megyesy, communications director with the Committee for Responsible Regulation, which supports the passage of Proposition AA (an initiative that calls for a 15 percent excise tax and a sales tax of 10-15 percent on recreational cannabis sales), is critical of this tactic. In a statement provided to Westword, Megyesy writes:
The No on AA campaign should be ashamed of itself for trying to capitalize upon a tragedy in order to advance their own political beliefs. We can debate the merits of a free joint giveaway, but I think we should all be in agreement that making light of people's suffering, as if a little marijuana can make it better, is inappropriate. The sad irony is that they are attempting to defeat a measure that will provide tens of millions of dollars annually for public school construction. This is money that could benefit some of the communities hit hard by the recent flooding.
As for Corry, he addresses criticism of the first free-joint giveaway at the outset of an e-mail interview about today's event. Read the conversation below, interspersed with and followed by photos from the Civic Center rally.
Westword: Some observers criticized the first Prop AA rally/joint giveaway. Did you consider it to be a success?
Rob Corry: The criticism of our historic event came either from the pro-AA campaign and/or anti-Amendment 64 politicians. To my knowledge, no one who opposes Proposition AA criticized our event. The free joint giveaway was a resounding success; people are now talking about the largest tax increase in Colorado history, when before this was a "stealth" campaign from the pro-tax side. The contrast between our campaign kickoffs says it all: ours was a people-centric, positive, energetic event, where the thousands of people present all had smiles on their faces. Theirs was a handful of politicians in the shadow of the Bastille. We peddled happiness (for free), they peddled fear (with a price).
WW: Do you think it creates a positive impression about marijuana users?
RC: It did. If you had been there to see the happy faces of the folks who got their free marijuana, the sheer joy that most of them expressed in their words and expressions, you'd have left the event with a positive impression. Also, keep in mind that these were orderly, polite people. Delays were long because we had to ID everyone to make sure they were 21. There was no violence, riots, or anything remotely approaching that. People literally waited for hours, in the hot sun, peacefully and happily. Marijuana users tend to be good people. I saw downtown workers wearing suits and ties standing alongside scruffy-looking homeless people, waiting for their marijuana. Marijuana brings people together. It was a beautiful day. I expect there will be many more joint giveaways before and after the election, more if AA passes. I am proud to be "The Robin Hood of Marijuana."
WW: Why did you choose Boulder as the site for the next rally/joint giveaway?
RC: The purpose of the event is to bring relief to flood victims, Boulder and surrounding environs were hit hard. Marijuana can be a calming and positive medicine; it brings laughter and joy, flood victims can benefit from it. Boulder's Pearl Street Mall, like Denver's Civic Center Park, is a symbol of the people. It is accessible to all people, it is an open area and everyone knows where it is and can find it. Vice President Biden is visiting the region on that day, so we hope he will participate in our event as well as surveying the damage.
WW: You mention the flood in your release. Do you feel that giving away cannabis is a sign of compassion and understanding for what people in Boulder have gone through?
RC: Absolutely.These people are suffering through a tragic and stressful loss of their families, neighbors, homes, and property. Everyone in Colorado is either directly affected by this or knows someone who is. Cannabis can promote wellness, it can bring happiness, it can help people process difficult and stressful things that happen in their lives. Also, marijuana is ruined if it gets too wet. We can help fill the gap with marijuana while the region dries out and recovers.
WW: Where is the cannabis being given away at the rallies coming from?
RC: Numerous sources who wish to remain anonymous. The fair market value of the cannabis is zero since it cannot be legally sold for "remuneration" without a valid license to do so and no such license presently exists, and will not until January 1, 2014 under Amendment 64.
WW: Do you expect to sponsor more events like this one until election day?
RC: Yes, we have a pending permit request with the City of Fort Collins, another flood-damaged region. Boulder responded to our permit application more quickly and efficiently than did Fort Collins. Biden's visit was simply good luck and we did not intentionally time our event to coincide, proving that God endorses a "No" vote on Proposition AA. "Though shalt not steal" applies to politicians too.
WW: Is there anything I might not have asked about that you feel is important to add?
RC: As we did at the last event, we will card everyone to make sure they are over 21. Expired IDs or illegible copies of IDs are unacceptable. People will need to be patient as this process works out. We will ask people not to consume marijuana or tobacco publicly, consumption of both of these are prohibited on the Pearl Street Mall. We are not law enforcement and will not physically confront anyone who lights up. As taxpayers, we do ask police to continue to exercise restraint and not waste taxpayer resources on petty public consumption. Boulder is a sane place, like Denver, and has a sense of proportionality on this issue.
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More from our Marijuana archive: "Marijuana: Free joints promised for adults 21 and over at anti-pot-taxation rally today."