Sensible Colorado's Brian Vicente has been talking about a 2012 ballot initiative to legalize marijuana for adult use here since at least this November 2009 post.
But his effort to accomplish this feat is one step closer to reality now that he's submitted eight variations on a legalization measure to the state's title-setting review board. Read them below.
"They all have the same basic framework," says Vicente about the documents, which were filed last week. "Essentially, what we're looking to do is regulate marijuana sales in a similar way that alcohol is regulated statewide. That way, adults 21 and over can purchase marijuana in regulated, state-licensed businesses where they have to show an ID before it can be purchased."
Among the main selling points, he continues, is that "it would free up law enforcement resources for far more important purposes -- and it would also produce a fair amount of tax revenue for the state."
According to Vicente, he and the Marijuana Policy Project's Steve Fox are "probably the principle authors" of the initiatives, "but this draft language is really the work of an incredible and unprecedented coalition that came together to draft it." The contributors include Safer Alternative for Enjoyable Recreation (SAFER), headed by Mason Tvert, who's named alongside Vicente on the documents, as well as "the Drug Policy Alliance and the ACLU, with input from dozens of lawyers in Colorado and outside of Colorado. And we've also gone to great lengths to include local activists in the process. We've solicited dozens of comments via e-mails, published articles asking for input, and spoke publicly to groups about the process."
Why introduce so many versions of the initiative? "We're looking to test some of the different provisions to see how they play out when we get to the title board," Vicente explains. "Some would legalize industrial hemp, or task the state legislature to legalize industrial hemp -- although that's a potential single-subject issue. There's also some earmarking language about possibly designating the revenue for school construction, as well as some TABOR and non-TABOR language" -- a reference to the Taxpayer Bill of Rights, which applies to most budgeting issues in the state. "And we could submit other language as well, since we're still so far out from the election. But right now, the initiatives are really 99 percent similar."
The title board will likely consider the measures in about two months. If everything goes smoothly, the backers of the initiative may start collecting the signatures needed to place it on the ballot as early as July. Approximately 86,000 valid signatures are needed, but Vicente says the group is looking to gather at least 130,000 in order to provide plenty of extras.
In 2010, California voters rejected a marijuana-legalization effort -- but that measure's failure doesn't depress Vicente. "I think they probably just chose the wrong year," he believes. "In 2012, we predict a lot of open-minded, progressive, younger voters will turn out," as they tend to do in presidential election years, "and that will benefit our efforts." Besides, "in Colorado, we have a template for marijuana sales in place with the dispensary model. And because of that, people here can grasp that marijuana sales can be done in a controlled and taxed manner and be safe for communities.
"This stands to be the largest and most coordinated marijuana reform effort in Colorado ever," he maintains. "We're adding new partners every day. I really think this has a great chance of winning in 2012 -- and that would be a positive thing for the state."
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