Marijuana: Great Legalization Debate II will be about unity, not bickering, says organizer

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In June, the first Great Legalization Debate, which was intended to seek common ground on the issue of legalizing or decriminalizing marijuana, deteriorated into a snipe-fest, with Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Act proponent Mason Tvert pitted against most of the other participants. So how will the second debate, slated for tomorrow night at Casselman's, avoid similar disaster? Says Legalize2012.com's Laura Kriho: "Mason won't be there."

According to Kriho, also known for her work with the Cannabis Therapy Institute, "It was against my better judgment that we invited Mason to begin with. It was supposed to be a debate with people who were willing to work together -- and because he wasn't willing, it turned into what it did.

"My goal was to get everybody in the state to work together, but Mason has taken his toys to play in his sandbox by himself -- and that's why it was counterproductive. So now we're back to the original idea: working together to create legislation."

For the record, Tvert says he and his associates solicited the opinions of all marijuana activists before settling on language for the initiative, and they want to build a strong and positive relationship within the cannabis community. Case in point: Tvert decided not to pursue charges against Miguel Lopez, who allegedly snatched a petition away from a Regulate volunteer at a recent event. Lopez, a veteran marijuana activist, is a vocal critic of the Act team's approach.

As for those on the dais tomorrow, Crazy for Justice's Corey Donahue won't be featured this time around. But plenty of other well-known figures from the marijuana movement are scheduled, including Greenfaith Ministry's Reverend Brandon Baker, Colorado Coalition for Patients and Caregivers' Robert Chase, Patient and Caregiver Rights Litigation Project's Kathleen Chippi, Cannabis Alliance for Regulation and Education's Rico Colibri, attorneys Rob Corry and Danyel Joffe, Vitamin Cannabis producer Kyle "Cap'n Cannabis" Marsh, and Timothy Tipton of the Rocky Mountain Caregivers Cooperative.

Kriho, meanwhile, will serve as moderator -- a role played last time around by Westword editor Patricia Calhoun. She hopes to create an atmosphere conducive to give and take, not body blows. The previous debate "was my one chance to speak my mind," she says. "I won't be able to participate in this one, but it's good that we're getting new people into the mix. We want to get some new ideas out there so we can come up with language for the 2012 ballot that people can all agree on."

Not everyone, of course. Kriho believes the marijuana-legalization movement has split "into two camps that I'd liken to Republicans and Democrats. Mason's camp says, 'Let's control it. Let's hand the keys over to the Department of Revenue and continue with seed-to-sale tracking and surveillance.' It's what we call the law-enforcement model. And we favor more liberalization. We're fighting for cannabis freedom. We want all crimes related to cannabis to be abolished."

The latest Casselman's debate won't be the last. Kriho expects more conversations to take place before language is finalized, probably around the first of the year. In the meantime, she admits that "Colorado might not be ready for legalization. It certainly doesn't seem like it." But she believes that if a true legalization movement fails, "we'll have an organization on the ground that's ready for the next battle."

Page down to get all of the details about tomorrow's event, courtesy of Legalize2012.com. Legalize2012.com release:

Great Legalization Debates of 2012 -- Round Two

Wed., Aug. 10, 2011 Casselman's Bar and Venue 2620 Walnut Street, Denver, CO 80205

Free and open to the public.

WATCH LIVE & ASK QUESTIONS ONLINE: http://www.ustream.tv/channel/legalize2012


6:30pm to 7:00pm: Updates from Legalize2012.com 7:00pm to 9:00pm: Debate 9:00pm to 11:00pm: Music and mingling

Join us in shaping Colorado Cannabis Policy for the 21st Century!

Several Colorado groups are interested in putting a citizen's initiative on the ballot in 2012 to amend the state Constitution to "legalize" cannabis, but what does "legalization" really mean? Can all these groups work together to create true legalization based on cannabis freedom? In an attempt to find unity among these groups, Legalize2012.com has organized the "Great Legalization Debates of 2012." The goal of the debates is to discuss ideas, policy and strategy on what will work best to protect Colorado cannabis consumers from arrest, prosecution and discrimination. Colorado is a model for the rest of the country, yet we don't have a clear idea of what is the best cannabis law for the state.

With increasing public support for legalization, the question is not when cannabis will be re-legalized, but how it will be re-legalized. Cannabis hasn't been legal in Colorado for all adults since 1937. Will Colorado's new legalization look like it did in the early 1900s, or will it look like something new in the 21st Century?

Will the Department of Revenue law enforcement officers be allowed to control all cannabis in the state, as MPP's Colorado initiative proposes, or should an amendment be proposed to let the Health Department regulate cannabis or to form an independent commission of the state's cannabis experts?

Is Colorado ready for true "legalization," or do we really want more regulations on cannabis?

Join us in this lively and friendly debate amongst legalization supporters to determine the best path for a Colorado citizen's ballot initiative to amend the Constitution in 2012.

• Sponsored by Legalize2012.com: The Cannabis Re-legalization Act (language in process) Invited Participants: • Rev. Brandon Baker of the Greenfaith Ministry, proponent of the Colorado Safer Communities & Health Initiative, modeled after homebrewing • Robert Chase, Colorado Coalition for Patients and Caregivers • Kathleen Chippi, Patient and Caregiver Rights Litigation Project, proponent of the "Inalienable Rights" model. Amend Article 2, Section 3 of the Colorado Constitution, making cannabis an inalienable right • Rico Colibri, CARE: Cannabis Alliance for Regulation & Education: Responsible Adult Use and Equalization of Cannabis Laws Act • Robert J. Corry, Jr., Attorney • Danyel S. Joffe, Attorney • Kyle Marsh, aka Cap'n Cannabis, producer of the documentary "Vitamin Cannabis" • Timothy Tipton, Rocky Mountain Caregivers Cooperative • Plus questions from the audience, live and from cyberspace

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