Marijuana legalization: Legalize 2012 objects to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Act name

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The firestorm of invective at the Great Legalization Debate suggested that parties behind competing marijuana-reform measures for the 2012 ballot might not be exactly rooting for each other. More evidence: Legalize2012.com has created a guideline for reporters that objects to the press using the name Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Act of 2012 for an initiative that Mason Tvert and Brian Vicente helped launch at a press event yesterday.

At a Wednesday hearing of the Colorado Title Board, which blesses initiatives seeking ballot inclusion, Legalize 2012 representatives objected to the use of the word "legalization" for the aforementioned act, and argued that the phrase "similar to alcohol" be stricken from the document because it was the equivalent of a marketing slogan. Tvert, who's part of what he refers to as a broad coalition behind the measure, told Westword "legalization" hadn't been part of the text in the first place, and while proponents agreed to leave out "similar to alcohol," they still think it's an accurate way to refer to the approach -- hence their decision to promote it as the Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Act of 2012.

That's not okay by Legalize 2012, which insists that references to the "MPP/DPA/Sensible/SAFER initiative" -- a nod to the Marijuana Policy Project, the Drug Policy Alliance, Sensible Colorado and Safer Alternative For Enjoyable Recreation -- are inaccurate. Instead, the media should use the formal name "Section 16. Personal Use and Regulation of Marijuana."

Our approach? If backers want to call their measure Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Act of 2012, that's fine by us. Hell, if they want to call it "Larry," we're okay with that, too. And if Legalize 2012 isn't formally allowed to call its forthcoming initiative by its preferred moniker -- Cannabis Re-legalization Act of 2012 -- but still wants to for public consumption, we'll go along as well. We're Switzerland.

Here's all of Legalize 2012's coverage suggestions:

Dear Reporters:

As you know, there are at least two separate campaigns to change marijuana laws in Colorado through ballot initiatives for the November 2012 election. The first campaign to file its initiative is supported by the Marijuana Policy Project, Drug Policy Alliance, Sensible, and SAFER and is a "Marijuana Sentencing Reform Initiative". Our campaign is called Legalize2012.com. We are in the process of writing a "true legalization" initiative.

Having two cannabis campaigns in Colorado has the potential to either confuse voters or to educate them, so it's important to discuss using accurate terminology early in these campaigns. Below are a few suggestions for future reporting about the MPP/SAFER/DPA/Sensible ballot initiative proposed for the Colorado ballot. It is important to get the wording correct when referring to their initiative, as not to confuse voters. This is going to be a long campaign, so we appreciate all your efforts to make sure the public has the most accurate information about both campaigns. Please let us know if we can clarify any of this further.

Q: What is the official name of the MPP/DPA/Sensible/SAFER initiative?

A: Officially, in the language of the initiative, it is called "Section 16. Personal Use and Regulation of Marijuana." Calling it anything other than that is inaccurate.

It is inaccurate to call the MPP/DPA/Sensible/SAFER initiative "Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Act of 2012". These words do *not* appear in the language of the actual ballot initiative. If the authors intended to use the name "Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Act", they should have added it to the language of their initiative, right after the words "Section 16". Common practice in writing initiatives is to give the law a "short title", so that it is easier to refer to: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Short_title

The same MPP drafters made this same mistake when they wrote what is commonly referred to as "Amendment 20," Colorado's medical marijuana law. "Amendment 20" was the number given the initiative when it was on the ballot in 2000. After it passed, it was no longer accurate to call it "Amendment 20".

Since the MPP drafters failed to give "Amendment 20" a short title in the language, we are now and forever hereafter forced to refer to it as "Article XVIII, Section 14 of the Colo. Constitution" or "Section 14. Medical use of marijuana for persons suffering from debilitating medical conditions." These are both cumbersome ways to refer to it, but they are the only accurate ways, because of the lack of an official act name or short title in the actual law.

If the MPP/DPA/Sensible/SAFER initiative is enacted, it must to be referred to as "Section 16. Personal Use and Regulation of Marijuana" or "Article XVIII, Section 16 of the Colo. Constitution". Since the phrase "Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Act of 2012" does not appear anywhere in the actual language of the law, and only in the proponents' marketing material, and since it will never be referred to it as that if it is enacted, we ask that reporters refrain from using this inaccurate phrase that will confuse voters.

Q: Why is the MPP/DPA/Sensible/SAFER initiative not legalization?

A: It is inaccurate to call the MPP/DPA/Sensible/SAFER initiative "legalization" because they themselves fought to have that word removed from the ballot title, so not to confuse voters. We ask that reporters refrain from using the term "legalization" to refer to the MPP/DPA/Sensible/SAFER initiative, as the proponents themselves have said clearly that their initiative is NOT legalization. Since Legalize 2012 is working on a "true legalization" ballot initiative for 2012, the MPP/DPA/Sensible/SAFER proponents agreed Legalize 2012.com should be able to "own that term." See quotes from the Title Board hearing on June 15: http://www.legalize2012.com/mpp/mpp.init3.not.legalization.htm

Q: Why is the MPP/DPA/Sensible/SAFER initiative not like alcohol?

A: The MPP/DPA/Sensible/SAFER proponents argued successfully on July 6 to have the words "similar to alcohol" removed from the ballot title because it would be misleading to voters. Given this, their continued use of the phrase in their marketing material is disingenuous and should not be repeated by the media. We ask that reporters refrain from using this inaccurate phrase that will confuse voters. http://www.legalize2012.com/mpp/mpp.init4.not.similar.alcohol.html

Q: Why is the MPP/DPA/Sensible/SAFER initiative is like medical marijuana?

A: It is clearly the intent of the proponents to regulate marijuana like medical marijuana, not alcohol. The initiative gives all the power over marijuana to the Department of Revenue, just like medical marijuana, and gives preferential treatment to medical marijuana licensees. The proponents have said repeatedly that they intend to use the medical marijuana regulatory system because it is "already set up."

Q: What can we call the MPP/DPA/Sensible/SAFER initiative?

A: Unfortunately, the only accurate way to refer to the MPP/DPA/Sensible/SAFER initiative is this: "Article XVIII, Section 16 of the Colorado Constitution, the Personal Use and Regulation of Marijuana Act."

However, to make it simpler for the press, Legalize 2012 will not object if reporters use the phrase "Marijuana Sentencing Reform Initiative" to refer to the MPP/DPA/Sensible/SAFER initiative. A reading of their language shows that it would only make slight changes to the Colorado criminal code regarding marijuana (removing the penalty for possession of one ounce and 6 or fewer plants, but leaving all the other criminal codes). So it is merely sentencing reform, nothing more.

Q: What is the Legalize 2012 Initiative?

A: In contrast, the Legalize 2012 campaign will start by abolishing all criminal penalties for cannabis in Colorado, so we will ask that our initiative be called the "Cannabis Re-legalization Act of 2012." We will put this into the language of the initiative, so it will always be called that.

Our language is being written by a large coalition of people from across Colorado with plenty of time for public input. Our timeline is to finish the language by the Fall, and circulate the petitions early in 2012.


The Legalize 2012 ballot initiative will use the word "cannabis" and not "marijuana". "Marijuana" is a racist term invented during the 1920s "Reefer Madness" campaign to make people believe that it was some new drug that Mexicans were using and going out and raping white women. No one knew that "marijuana" was really "cannabis", a drug that had been in the US pharmacopeia until 1943. The MPP Sentencing Reform Initiative uses the term "marijuana." The Legalize 2012 initiative will not use that word, and would like to encourage reporters to use the accurate historical and scientific term for the plant: Cannabis.

Please let us know if you have any questions.

More from our Marijuana archive: "Medical Marijuana Enforcement Division rules for moving MMJ extreme, says Wanda James."

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