Marijuana measures in Oregon, Washington won't hurt Colorado campaign, advocate says

Amendment 64, the Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Act, has arguably received more attention than any other pro-pot ballot measure in the U.S. But there's a similar proposal in Washington, and one could soon be approved for this year's election in Oregon. Could these efforts hurt fundraising for Amendment 64? A campaign spokeswoman isn't worried and sees the initiatives as more evidence that change is needed here and beyond.

"I think that along with ample other evidence, this demonstrates that across America, people understand that marijuana prohibition has failed," says Betty Aldworth, representing Amendment 64 proponents. "It's time for a new policy where we can regulate marijuana in smarter and more sensible ways."

Amendment 64 certainly hasn't wanted for out-of-state dollars thus far. By this time last month, the campaign had already collected almost $2 million, most of it from beyond Colorado. That includes $500,000 from the Marijuana Policy Project and $50,000 from hemp-industry leaders.

Meanwhile, two marijuana-related initiatives have made news in Oregon. One that would have embedded the right for adults to smoke marijuana in the state's constitution (a Texas group largely funded it) was rejected by Secretary of State Kate Brown; its primary backer, Robert Wolfe, has filed a lawsuit challenging her edict. But a separate measure to legalize the growing and sale of marijuana by state-licensed businesses is widely expected to win ballot approval. The frontman for the latter is Paul Stanford, who has used money earned from a chain of medical marijuana clinics to pay for the petition drive.

Should Brown give Stanford the go-ahead, his campaign will no doubt attract dollars from places other than Oregon in addition to local bucks -- and that's perfectly fine by Aldworth.

"As much as marijuana prohibition has failed in Colorado, it's failed even more miserably in plenty of other places around the country," she allows. "When I say that, I mean people in some places are being imprisoned for choosing to use a substance that's objectively safer than alcohol -- and in many states, those punishments are much harsher than those in Colorado. So seeing more initiatives across the country is obviously a good thing. If we can end marijuana prohibition in Colorado, and regulate it in a manner that's similar to alcohol, there's no reason we can't do that in all fifty states."

Regarding 64 fundraising, she stresses that "this is not a zero-sum gain. There is more public support for ending marijuana prohibition than ever before, and these states are poised to do just that this November.

"This is an opportunity to make history, and people are becoming increasingly excited and enthusiastic to be a part of it," Aldworth adds. "That could very well translate into a heightened interest in contributing to these efforts among existing and new supporters."

More from our Marijuana archive: "Photo: Marijuana billboard features dad saying, 'Please, card my son.'"

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts

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