Marijuana legalization ballot measures language not likely to change much

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Today, eight proposed 2012 marijuana legalization ballot measures were considered by the Colorado Office of Legislative and Legal Services.

However, few changes were made and little was said by the initiatives' backers.

Brian Vicente and Mason Tvert, who are leading the push for the measures, both looked on quietly as their counsel, Ed Ramey, fielded most of the inquiries.

The meeting is required by state law to help clarify legal language of ballot initiatives. It's a chance for the state to identify ambiguous language. Any changes made outside of the state's recommendations would require resubmitting the proposal.

Several activists representing groups opposed the initiatives due to what they see as a lack of community input were in attendance, though no public comment was taken.

Kurt Morrison and Jane Ritter, both with the Colorado Office of Legislative and Legal Services, traded off questions, asking about the intent of the proposals and their similarities. Ramey said their intention is to create a "framework for the lawful use, regulation and taxation of marijuana in the state" and stressed that the group plans to move forward with only one of the bills -- although he didn't say when a final decision would be made.

Suggestions included clarifying references to the state's medical marijuana laws and flip-flopping "ensure" and "insure." Morrison and Ritter also wanted more specifics about what the phrase "under the age of 21" meant.

However, a few questions were more pointed, including Ritter's focus on the description of how much marijuana a legal adult could possesses. Draft versions of the bill that floated around before the hearing had vague language allowing possession of an ounce as well as the ability to grow six plants. Noting the confusion, Ramey deferred to Vicente, who said the intent of the bill is "to allow adults 21 and over to possess up to one ounce of marijuana, also to have six plants of marijuana and also to have the resulting harvest of those plants on the premises where they are grown."

Regulation of marijuana would be left up to the Department of Revenue, despite suggestions from the state that other agencies may be more appropriate. Ramey said the Department of Revenue is "the appropriate regulatory agency, much like the same way they are with alcoholic beverages. We certainly would hope that, to the extent consultation of other state agencies would be helpful to the Department of Revenue, they would do so to the extent that would be appropriate." He also noted that public and private schools and colleges would have the right to ban marijuana on their property.

The meeting ended in under twenty minutes, with no comment from Vicente or Tvert after the questioning. View each ballot measure and the comments here.

More from our Marijuana archive: "Medical marijuana: 9 license rejections, 50 fines, says enforcement division's Dan Hartman."

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