A group led by Brian Vicente and Mason Tvert has submitted eight marijuana-legalization initiatives with an eye toward the 2012 election -- and they're not alone. Legalize2012.com plans to offer a proposal, and now the advocacy outfit called Crazy For Justice has assembled a draft that, among other things, suggests making 4/20 a state holiday dubbed Cannabis Freedom Day.
Crazy For Justice's Corey Donahue, who's been credited with leading the lobbying effort that helped defeat a bill to set THC driving limits, stresses that his Free Colorado Cannabis Act, on view below, is a living document. His goal is to throw out ideas that can be discussed at forums like a planned June 22 debate at Casselman's to be moderated by Westword editor Patricia Calhoun. That way, advocates can come up with an initiative that best reflects the views of as many pro-legalization boosters as possible.
In Donahue's view, the Vicente-Tvert initiatives seem shaped to "attract the support of the most people to what the polls say they want. The first line of theirs says, 'For the more efficient use of law-enforcement resources,' and the first line of mine says, 'To expand the freedoms of the people.' I think that's a nice contrast.
"Our goal is to think of this the way the original drafters of the Constitution did: look at what's wrong with society, look at how we can fix it, and then write it down and expand people's rights," he adds.
Among the Crazy For Justice suggestions: "We create a cannabis commission that will include people who advocated for legalization, people appointed by the governor -- a large coalition. And there will also be a hemp commission, which will deal with industrial hemp. And all that will be required for people to operate a business is a sales tax license, just like for any other business.
The act also calls for the release of "all persons presently incarcerated in Colorado only for cannabis, marihuana, marijuana, marihuana concentrate, synthetic cannabinoid compound, or tetrahydrocannabinol offenses which are no longer illegal in the State of Colorado" by January 1 of the year following the initiative's passage. The measure adds that "the Colorado Drug Enforcement Agencies and the Medical Marijuana Enforcement Divisions budgets will be applied to 50% of the reparations to be paid for wrongs done to non-violent cannabis offenders retroactively for the last 10 years and will be applied to reparations divided equally between current offenders. 50% will be paid directly from the reduction in prison cost or profits in the case of private prisons."
Donahue's explanation for these sweeping edicts? "Radical times call for radical solutions. The government spends $6,600 per pupil per year, but $32,000 per prisoner per year -- and a lot of parents are being locked up in prison for nonviolent drug crimes. We need to set them free. In the French Revolution, they stormed the Bastille and freed the prisoners, and we need to do that for people convicted of cannabis crimes, too."
He sees Cannabis Freedom Day on April 20 as symbolic of this effort. "You have to give people hope," he maintains. "And not only do they like freedom, but they'd like another holiday -- which is why I think a lot of them will say, 'I think I'd vote for that.'"
Proposed initiatives don't have to be finalized until January, Donahue notes, so he expects that advocates will be at work for a while longer "making sure we have the most correct language -- and hopefully the debate might inspire people to come out and talk about it, let us know their opinions."
The current draft of the Free Colorado Cannabis Act is on view below (it can also be accessed by clicking here), along with a document comparing it to the Vicente-Tvert initiatives.
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