Pro-Got Group Aims at State Law in '06

  Pro-Got Group Aims at State Law in '06

Posted by CN Staff on December 28, 2005 at 07:35:45 PT
By Alan Gathright, Rocky Mountain News 
Source: Rocky Mountain News 

Colorado -- The same pro-pot group that persuaded Denver voters to approve a measure legalizing adult marijuana possession in the city is now firing up a statewide campaign to place an identical initiative on Colorado's fall 2006 ballot. The group, Safer Alternative for Enjoyable Recreation, plans to hold a news conference this morning outside the State Capitol announcing the launch of the effort. The statewide "Colorado Alcohol-Marijuana Equalization Initiative," seeks voter approval to make it legal for people 21 or older to possess 1 ounce or less of weed.
Even if the measure passes, it would remain illegal for people to publicly display or smoke pot, sell it or drive under its influence. The group will need nearly 68,000 voter signatures to qualify for the ballot, but SAFER Campaign Director Mason Tvert said he plans to gather about 100,000 signatures. Tvert said the statewide campaign is largely driven by frustration that Denver authorities, rejecting voter passage of local Initiative 100, continue to cite small-time marijuana violators under a state law that imposes a $200 fine for possession of an ounce or less. The initiative gives adults in Denver the right to privately possess that amount. "Elected officials in Denver have been true to their word and completely ignored the will of the voters," Tvert told the Rocky Mountain News on Tuesday. "We only have one option left and that's to change state law." Colorado Attorney General John Suthers said he welcomed a "head-on, outright debate about legalization." He expressed frustration with the state medical marijuana initiative passed by voters in 2000, saying: "It was obviously advocated by legalization advocates, but they didn't want to take the issue on head-on." "But," Suthers added, "my personal opinion is it would be terrible public policy to legalize possession of any amount of marijuana. The information that we now have is that marijuana is a dangerous drug." Pro-pot forces also are itching for the coming battle. "Bring it on," Tvert said. "I'll gladly challenge the attorney general to defend current public policy that pushes people to use a deadly drug (alcohol) when they otherwise might use a far less dangerous drug (marijuana)." Countered Suthers: "The premise of this group seems to be that marijuana is better than alcohol, therefore it's OK. I just don't buy that. I never engage in the moral relativism that this is a lesser evil . . . therefore we ought to promote this evil." The 23-year-old Tvert surprised political observers in the Nov. 1 election by winning nearly 54 percent support to pass Initiative 100. SAFER drew criticism from local leaders and made international headlines for an unconventional campaign that argued marijuana is a safer alternative to alcohol. Now, Tvert already appears to be reaching out to Colorado's more conservative voters outside Denver by pitching the statewide measure as "a big issue of local rights and home-rule." "If this initiative passes, it's not going to suddenly make marijuana completely legal for all adults in Colorado," Tvert stressed. "All home-rule cities and towns in Colorado, which is about 90 percent of the state's population, will have the ability to fine or penalize marijuana users if that's what they want to do." "But in cities such as Denver, where . . . voters have chosen to allow residents to make the rational decision to use marijuana instead of alcohol, state law will no longer force police and prosecutors to punish marijuana users," he added. Political analyst Eric Sondermann noted, "There are two huge differences" between pushing a pot measure in Denver and campaigning for one statewide. It was easier to persuade Denver voters to pass a "primarily symbolic" measure, Sondermann added, because they knew it would have no consequences, given that Colorado drug policy is set by state law. "If and when they take this statewide, it will have consequences. They will be amending state statute." More importantly, Sondermann said: "Delta is not Denver," referring to the conservative Western Slope town. "The biggest factor is simply the demographics, cultural attitudes and political performance are very, very different just going to the Denver suburbs. But particularly when you go to the outlying areas, they get night-and-day different." Indeed, the day after Denver's pot initiative passed, Republican Gov. Bill Owens said he'd love to see a statewide marijuana showdown. "The governor doesn't believe the Denver vote is representative of what the entire state vote would be on this issue," Owens' spokesman, Dan Hopkins, said Tuesday. "He believes that we would get an entirely different result." "Obviously this is something that he doesn't support and wouldn't support," Hopkins added. But national marijuana reform advocates think it's a mistake to dismiss SAFER's success. "For anybody who would underestimate SAFER, I would say a lot of people underestimated them in Denver," said Bruce Mirken, spokesman for the national Marijuana Policy Project. The Washington, D.C-based group has qualified a statewide November measure in Nevada that asks voters to tax and regulate pot. "I certainly wouldn't brush them off by any means," he added. Mirken noted that SAFER convinced many Denver residents to rethink the marijuana issue and the local victory "means increased momentum for consideration of the whole issue." Denver City Councilman Charlie Brown criticized SAFER's Initiative 100 campaign for lawn signs reading "Make Denver SAFER," calling it a blatant attempt to fool voters into thinking it was an effort to fund more city police officers. "Now that the word is out about how they, in my judgment, tried to mislead people, I hope that their statewide campaign is not based on mendacities and half-truths," Brown said. "I hope they can come straight with the Colorado voters and we'll see who wins." Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper, while expressing concerns about marijuana being a "gateway drug" that can spawn harmful addictions, didn't actively campaign against Initiative 100. The mayor's spokeswoman, Lindy Eichenbaum Lent, said she doubted Hickenlooper would take an active role against the measure. "Clearly, going statewide was always (SAFER's) strategy - and understandably so since municipal approaches like Initiative 100 are trumped by state law," she added. Note: Opposition ready to give legalization debate center stage.Easing pot laws: States that have passed laws imposing little or no fines and no jail time for possession of small amounts of marijuana: • Alaska • California • Colorado • Maine • Minnesota • Mississippi • Nebraska • Nevada • New York • N. Carolina • Ohio • Oregon States that have passed medical marijuana laws: • Alaska • California • Colorado • Hawaii • Maine • Maryland • Montana • Nevada • Oregon • Vermont • Washington Source: Denver Rocky Mountain News (CO)Author:  Alan Gathright, Rocky Mountain News Published: December 28, 2005Copyright: 2005 Denver Publishing Co.Contact: letters rockymountainnews.comWebsite: Articles & Web Sites:Marijuana Policy Project Choice Group Seeks State Vote Time Has Come To Legalize Marijuana Is First City To Legalize Pot 

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Comment #15 posted by FoM on December 29, 2005 at 10:24:08 PT
Thanks so much for sending it to me. I uploaded it so others could hear it too.Drugs are bad! Okay.
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Comment #14 posted by Dankhank on December 29, 2005 at 10:22:47 PT
Drugs ARE bad ... mmmmmmmmkay?
I used that little audio file at the newspaper editor's office to illustrate the Government position on drugs.It's a fantastic little ditty, thank you Mr Makey ...
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Comment #13 posted by FoM on December 28, 2005 at 19:34:05 PT
I agree with you. How would they debate? They use the same illogical reasons over and over again. Drugs are Bad Okay!
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Comment #12 posted by kaptinemo on December 28, 2005 at 19:23:03 PT:
They want to debate? Muahahahaahahaha!
Sorry, couldn't pass that up.If the head ONDCP personnel are deathly afraid of debating, what could these lesser wonks think they have that the top leadership doesn't? What absolute hubris! You really have to wonder why they think they won't get shot down in flames when their lies are challenged by those possessing the facts? We know they read here. We know they glean every word. They know we mean business, that our side is spoiling for a debate...which we've offered invitations to for at least a DECADE. Each time, they ran like whipped dogs, making brave noises as they retreated, trying to sound as if they were in control as their hindquarters led them (in true prohib fashion: bass-ackwards) towards the nearest exit.I sincerely hope this is recorded and televised for all the world to see. But given their past behaviors, I won't hold my breath.I imagine that, just as in almost every case, the antis will back down, and quickly, claiming the moral high ground by stating they will not debate the merits of legalization with cannabis activists just as they wouldn't debate the merits of changing penalties for murder with murderers. They are as predictable in their lameness as they are in their insulting attitude towards democracy. But if they want to display their ignorance publicly and be taken to the intellectual woodshed for a much-needed drubbing, so be it. Bring it on!
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Comment #11 posted by mayan on December 28, 2005 at 17:49:54 PT
Thanks for the poll! It's now 71% to 29%!
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Comment #10 posted by FoM on December 28, 2005 at 13:22:14 PT
Related Article and Poll
Group Fires Up Initiative To Legalize Pot StatewidePeople Behind Initiative-100 Want Statewide Law***Do you think it should be legal to possess up to an ounce of marijuana? Choice Votes Percentage of 1183 Votes Yes -- 820 -- 69% No -- 363 -- 31% Please Vote: December 28, 2005DENVER -- The group that got Denver voters to approve legalizing marijuana in city limits is now trying to get a statewide initiative.The proposed measure would legalize less than an ounce of pot for adults 21 and older across Colorado.The group Safer Alternative For Enjoyable Recreation (SAFER) needs 68,000 signatures by August to get the initiative on the state ballot for next November's election.Group leaders are filing the initial paper work on Wednesday. 
 "Clearly, people in the state of Colorado are fed with up laws that push people to using alcohol instead of marijuana, when it is a far more dangerous drug and causes more problems around the state," said Mason Tvert, SAFER's campaign director.The state's attorney general, John Suthers, does not buy the argument that pot is safer and welcomes the debate. He and the governor feel the measure would be defeated. Colorado House Speaker Andrew Romanoff -- a Denver Democrat -- opposes changing the state law. He thinks drug use in the state is already too high and said the matter would wind up in the courts.State authorities had said Denver's Initiative-100, even though it was passed by voters, was virtually meaningless because of state and federal laws that make even small amounts of marijuana illegal.Tvert said even though Denver voters had expressed their opinion that a small pinch of pot should be legal, people were still being arrested and prosecuted under state law and he wants that to stop.The statewide proposal would get rid of the state's prohibition of marijuana and allow cities to make the rules about pot use."Once there is no state law, the city ordinance is what the cities and towns would go by and other places ... would have every right to keep punishing adult marijuana users if they chose to," said Tvert.The language of the initiative will first be reviewed by the state Legislature and then the proposal will be up for a public discussion.SAFER said they will start collecting signatures in February. They're optimistic that they will get all 68,000 signatures required. To get I-100 on the Denver ballot last November, the group needed 5,000 signatures and received 13,000.Copyright: 2005, Internet Broadcasting Systems, Inc. 
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Comment #9 posted by global_warming on December 28, 2005 at 13:11:37 PT
There Is No Rest
We are so completely surrounded,From 'our first BreathTo our 'LastThe Present'We are witnessTo the 'butchery'we can and that punishmentyes 'we can end that next judgment'we those peopleDeclare and RatifyAs 'we stand before the NightThat 'we those soulsAttest and do solemnly testify
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Comment #8 posted by global_warming on December 28, 2005 at 12:33:56 PT
This Is Not Going Away
Cannabis is not going away, no matter what 'laws or modern conveniences you anti's can come up with.Cannabis is as much a part of Life as Our Everlasting Souls.You may not believe in an afterlife, you may not believe in heaven or hell, but you better believe, that the Millions of Human Beings who Enjoy Cannabis, Will not to be exterminated.Best you consider rodent control or some other occupation, it might be better for you in the this world and your empty soul.
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Comment #7 posted by global_warming on December 28, 2005 at 12:08:26 PT
Do people REALLY still feel safer with MORE cops?
It seems that some people still feel safer with more cops, they even want a cop to live in their street.Yet, when I read about drunken cops, cops who victimize young girl children, cops who robbed the dead at 911, I question if we 'we need more cops.Law Enforcement Personnel, should always conduct their business, in the Highest Professional Standards, a corrupt cop, is worth no more than a corrupt Judge or President.
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Comment #6 posted by Dankhank on December 28, 2005 at 11:56:18 PT
Stupid Asses ...
Denver City Councilman Charlie Brown criticized SAFER's Initiative 100 campaign for lawn signs reading "Make Denver SAFER," calling it a blatant attempt to fool voters into thinking it was an effort to fund more city police officers.Do people REALLY still feel safer with MORE cops?Stupid Ass.
Hemp N Stuff
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Comment #5 posted by global_warming on December 28, 2005 at 11:51:46 PT
Go Mason
This is one amazing young man, he has my Blessings and I hope the entire state of Colorado which has at its core the Freedoms that have made America the Jewel In The Night to the Peoples of most other countries..Go Colorado..The rest of us political/economic slaves do humbly recognize and will come forward to support you, it is time, there is a chink in the armour, where Light is shining through, that warming Light is coming from Denver.Go Mason
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Comment #4 posted by Taylor121 on December 28, 2005 at 09:25:27 PT
Notice how they are dismissing it already as it not having a chance. Sound familiar? Same thing they thought about the Denver intiative.
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Comment #3 posted by FoM on December 28, 2005 at 08:58:18 PT

State by state seems to be the best way to turn the laws on Cannabis around. In a time when we see the control of our government by the right it's a miracle that we make any progreess at all but 06 is also an election year and that might put control back in a better place. I sure hope so.
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Comment #2 posted by whig on December 28, 2005 at 08:45:15 PT

Kannabostian! I love it!
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Comment #1 posted by Toker00 on December 28, 2005 at 08:21:54 PT

I believe that this is a beautiful thing! We now have a stage, and a chance, to be BAD BAD BAD BAD BAD, and go NATION WIDE! This initiative will be in Colorado, but it will reflect the Public and Elected Officials ignorance about Cannabis and the Race-ism that IS the War on Drugs not just NATION-WIDE but WORLD-WIDE! Bring it on, Indeed! Farewell DEAth! Farewell Pharma-poisons! Farewell Profit for Treatment and None for Cures! Farewell NIDA Science! The Sword of Truth is Ready! Onward Kannabostian Soldiers!Wage peace on war. END CANNABIS PROHIBITION NOW!  
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