Marijuana re-legalization: Guv candidate Miguel Lopez plans for big push in 2012

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Miguel Lopez is a write-in candidate for governor, as well as an advocate for what he calls "marijuana re-legalization." He sees 2012 as the year when this issue is likely to reach the ballot box, but he doesn't want activists to wait around until then. That's the message of "2010 Year in Review: Direction 2011," a July 24 event intended to lay the groundwork for the campaign to come -- and to help members of the marijuana community deal with the fallout from the mainstreaming of weed.

Should marijuana be legalized, Lopez, who recently returned from a July 4 "smoke-out" near the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., sees many potential conflicts on the horizon -- including an active threat to the medical marijuana dispensary system only now being formally regulated.

"We believe full re-legalization is in the best interest of patients," he says. "And we're also for keeping our dispensaries open. We don't want big industry, like Philip Morris and other big tobacco companies, to come in and try to take over. We're for small businesses, and for supporting people who were originally part of our movement."

In the meantime, Lopez fears that incoming state regulations will inspire a heavy-handed response from law enforcement, particularly in communities that have been resistant to the MMJ boom. That's one inspiration for Saturday's event, which gets underway at 10 a.m. at Skyline Park #2, just off the 16th Street Mall at Arapahoe. In addition to assorted speakers and the screening of the films The War on Drugs and Grass, narrated by Woody Harrelson, the program will feature what Lopez refers to as "Marijuana Cop Watch" training.

"We'll be teaching people in the industry, people in their neighborhoods, their friends and their employees how to identify an officer who needs to be held accountable for professionalism or someone who's just not explaining to people what they're being held in custody for," Lopez says. "And we'll include role playing, which is an important part of this. If people get pulled over and they're told, 'Pull out your ID!,' their minds go blank. But if they've learned through role-playing, they'll go into automatic and know how to assert their rights."

Oh yeah: At 4:20 p.m., Lopez adds, there'll also be "a social hour, where people may want to practice civil disobedience" by smoking a certain substance. And if there are any arrests, attorney Rob Corry and other legal types expected to be on hand have offered to defend those cited free of charge.

Such a deal. For more information about "2010 Year in Review: Direction 2011," click here.

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