Residents of Colorado will have the opportunity to vote in favor of ending marijuana prohibition this November. Today, the “Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Act” was approved for the ballot by Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler. With this confirmation, Colorado now joins Washington as one of two states where measures specific to legalizing cannabis will appear on the electoral ballot.
The measure is supported by a broad coalition of reform organizations, including NORML, the American Civil Liberties Union of Colorado, SAFER, Sensible Colorado, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP), Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP), the Drug Policy Alliance, and the Marijuana Policy Project.
Basically put, the initiative will:
- legalize possession of an ounce for those 21 and older;
- legalize possession of three mature plants and three seedlings;
- legalize possession of all the marijuana produced by the three mature plants so long as it stays at the growsite*;
- legalize giving up to an ounce to your adult friend;
- legalize retail marijuana stores;
- legalize commercial marijuana production;
- not change medical marijuana in any way.
Of course, there are patients against this legalization as well. Of course, they are telling you “Initiative 30 is Not “Legalization”” Of course, they want you to support and “SIGN THE REAL COLORADO MARIJUANA LEGALIZATION VIRTUAL PETITION” which, like the actual petition, won’t get legalization anywhere near the ballot.
Yes, Initiative 30 has made the ballot, already, with eight months now to campaign on, but the patients against this legalization want you to follow their timeline:
TIMELINE FOR LEGALIZE2012.com True Legalization Initiative:
Feb. 2012: Collect virtual petition signatures online.**
March 2012: Start collecting physical signatures, if funding is adequate
(about 80,000 valid signatures needed of Colorado registered voters)
Aug. 2012: Turn in signatures to Secretary of State for verification
So, maybe, if funding is adequate, we can campaign on “true legalization” for a couple of months before the election. Certainly it won’t take very much time to convince a 50%+1 majority of voters to approve the “true legalization” that includes:
- Replace the racist words “marijuana” and “marihuana” with the scientifically-accurate word “cannabis”;***
- legalize possession of marijuana by 18-year-olds, many of whom are still in high school; (good luck selling that to the soccer moms)
- ban blood, urine, hair, saliva testing, and breathalyzers (the unclear language may ban that in all circumstances, not just cannabis); (good luck selling that to the driving public)
- allow possession for personal use with no clear definition of how much that is, if any limit; (good luck getting people to vote for no limits)
- “Treat commercial cannabis as an agricultural product either equally or less restrictively than grapes, tomatoes or other harmless botanical plants;” (good luck convincing soccer moms that we’re going to treat pot like we treat fruits that don’t get your kid high)
- Repeal all criminal laws on marijuana;
- Create an affirmative defense; (to what, all the criminal laws that were just repealed?)
- Create a commercial cannabis industry that is completely self-regulated; (yeah, industries that self-regulate are good… ask Big Oil, Big Pharma, Big Mining, et al.)
Every time I see this backlash by patients who want “true legalization”, I’m reminded how easy it is to have that principle when you’ve been protected from arrest since 2000.
Now I believe the “patients for true legalization” are sincere and acting in good faith. What I think they don’t understand is that they’re fighting to cross the finish line before the race has even started. I’d love for marijuana to go from “a gram is a crime” to “grow-your-own-field legalization” in one election, but that’s not how it’s going to happen****. It’s going to evolve slowly over time, from the decrim of the 70′s to the medical of the 90′s to the limited legalization we’re proposing in the 10′s, and, hopefully sooner than later, will blossom into the fuller legalization these “treat it like tomatoes” people are hoping for.
But that evolution – that race – doesn’t begin until the people fighting for full legalization are no longer “criminals trying to get away with smoking dope”. When we get the limited legalization, we are no longer criminals without rights; we are a lobby of legal consumers seeking to expand our rights.
Since RMLA is already on the ballot, there is no chance of petition confusion, so if they want to keep moving forward with “true legalization”, have at it. If a miracle occurs and they make the ballot, having a “treat it like tomatoes” initiative will make the “treat it like alcohol” initiative seem even more mainstream. I have no problem with people not voting for limited legalization or working to vote on a different legalization.
But if you are working to defeat any legalization, you are as much my enemy as the Drug Czar.
* Did you notice any limits on that? Neither did I. ”Two hundred pounds of pot? Why, officer, that’s what was produced by my three mature plants when I harvested them in Jul ’13 + Sep ’13 + Nov ’13 + Jan ’14… What’s that, I don’t have any plants now? Right, because I harvested them, and I’ve decided two hundred pounds was enough and I need not grow any more.”
** Which, by the way, are worth nada when it comes to getting legalization on the ballot. Good thing we’re wasting a month on that!
*** There is nothing “racist” about the word “marijuana”. “Marijuana” is the Mexican slang term for the dried buds of cannabis flowers used for smoking and is no more “racist” in Spanish than “weed” is in English. Now some racists used the word in the early 1900′s to avail themselves of racist sentiment by changing the familiar “cannabis” to the unfamiliar “marijuana”, but that makes the actual word “marijuana” no more racist than if we’d used “huevos” to scare Americans about the dangers of salmonella from eating cooked chicken embryos. Plus, “cannabis” is as scientifically accurate as saying baseball players like eating “sunflowers” or I’m enjoying a bucket of buttered “maize” at the movies. ”Cannabis” is the whole plant. Hemp and marijuana are things that come from cannabis.
**** Yeah, I know that’s how alcohol prohibition ended. But that was a) only a 13-year prohibition, not 75, b) a substance that already had centuries of cultural norms and regulations in place before, c) never had to face the coordinated and omnipresent media against it, d) had plenty of people in power and influence who were acknowledged users, and e) had a majority of people who used supporting it.