Pro-Dope Holiday Puts Spotlight on Local Attitudes

Pro-Dope Holiday Puts Spotlight on Local Attitudes
Posted by CN Staff on April 18, 2008 at 06:43:32 PT
By Evan Sandsmark, Colorado Daily Staff 
Source: Colorado Daily
Colorado -- Marijuana users abound in Boulder. A report released by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration in August 2005 revealed that 10.3 percent of Boulder residents over the age of 12 admitted to using marijuana in the last month.The impending Sunday, April 20 (4/20) celebration of the psychoactive herb, held annually on the CU campus, calls attention to the issues surrounding, as well the opinions regarding, marijuana use.
On one hand, there are organizations like Sensible Colorado, a group that "envisions a system where drug use becomes a health issue, not a crime issue," according to its website.Brian Vicente, an attorney who serves as the executive director of Sensible Colorado, says his organization's mission is twofold: "One is we're the main non-profit resource for medical marijuana patients and caregivers and doctors in the state. The other side is that we're just pushing for commonsense drug polices, and we are pushing for an alternative to marijuana prohibition, specifically."Marijuana is overwhelmingly the most widely used illegal drug in the United States, the use and possession of which results in 850,000 annual arrests, according to Vicente."We think those 850,000 people aren't criminals, necessarily," he said. "We simply believe that it would be better for marijuana to move away from the Prohibition Era-model to move more towards a system of regulation."He went on to explain that the government should have some form of the control over marijuana, including the ability to tax and regulate it in the same way alcohol is, because people are using it anyway.For state-registered caregivers who depend on marijuana as source of income, their demands are often less demanding, hoping only, or at least mostly, for medical marijuana to be recognized as fully legal with no stipulations.Tom, a registered medical marijuana caregiver who declined to provide his last name to avoid increased scrutiny from law enforcement, said that although medical marijuana is legal in Colorado per Amendment 20, it is still illegal under federal law.Because state and federal law conflicts on the issue, "a lot of patients and probably caregivers and just people in general are still in fear," Tom said. "The laws are not up to speed on the federal level as much as they are in a few states."Even if caregivers like Tom, who generally run growing operations, were guaranteed protection from federal government intervention, there are caveats under the state law. For example, a caregiver can only grow six plants for each of their patients, three of which can be flowering (meaning that usable marijuana can be harvested from them)."It's a bit unrealistic because that's assuming that you can grow three successful plants, and for a lot of patients, that's not enough," Tom said. The needs of any given patient "are more nebulous."In Colorado, a patient who has been issued a Medical Marijuana Registry card looks for a caregiver to help them acquire marijuana. Sometimes, the caregivers help patients start growing operations, but it's difficult and expensive to grow reliable plants. As such, patients often turn to caregivers to grow marijuana for them."My priority and my goal is to help support patients who need medical marijuana," Tom said, "it is unfortunate that we have to be walking on eggshells like this. I have to maintain a certain level of discretion."He continued: "I choose to maintain as low of a profile as possible despite my beliefs about it -- I value my freedom."For patients in need of a caregiver, Tom can be contacted at:  mjcaregiver comcast.netThis coming Sunday, the annual 4/20 "smoke-out" will be held on the CU campus, and groups like National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) at CU are excited for the attention that the event will draw."4/20 is our largest activist event of the year. We expect over 10,000 people to be at this year's 4/20," said Alex Douglas, a member of the NORML board of directors for the CU chapter. "It's more than a smoke-out this year, its going to be more of an activist rally where people are holding signs."NORML at CU, who does not support anyone smoking marijuana at the 4/20 event, will host several guest speakers, as well as a concert, all part of activities that will take place from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.Sensible Colorado does not support public displays of drug use either, but Vicente said that "civil disobedience is a form of protest that has its merits." Even so, Vicente added that "I encourage people that want to get involved in activities like 4/20 to register to vote and get involved in reforming the laws, as opposed to simply attending a smoke-out."When asked about the police's strategy to handle the event, Brad Wiesley, the spokesperson for the CU police department, said, "We don't give our playbook to other team before the game. I'm not going to reveal what out tactical plans are. We will have a presence. We will certainly be there to try and keep it a safe event."However, he added that "it's pretty obvious that all the police officers that we can gather are not going to be anywhere near the size of the crowd of people who are going to show up -- and, so, are we going to write everyone there a ticket for marijuana possession? The answer is 'no.'""If people show up and want to have speeches and rallies, and they're not breaking the law to do it," he said, "more power to them."Complete Title: 4/20 Fever: Impending Pro-Dope Holiday Puts Spotlight on Local AttitudesSource: Colorado Daily (UC Edu, CO)Author: Evan Sandsmark, Colorado Daily Staff Published: Friday, April 18, 2008 Copyright: 2008 Colorado DailyContact: editor coloradodaily.comWebsite: Colorado -- Cannabis Archives 
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