Activists see growing support despite new rules on medical marijuana
In the wake of new legislation regulating the burgeoning medical marijuana industry, advocates in Colorado are planning another attempt to simply legalize the drug for recreational as well as medicinal purposes.
Activists have their eyes on placing a state constitutional amendment on the ballot in 2012.
The Boulder-based Cannabis Therapy Institute announced Friday it will work on a legalization measure for 2012. Greg Stinson, president of the Front Range chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, said he's aware of at least one other group looking at a 2012 ballot measure, though he wasn't sure the group was ready to go public.
In a news release, the Cannabis Therapy Institute said the medical marijuana regulations signed into law by Gov. Bill Ritter are too restrictive, and the best solution is to push for full legalization. Under the name "Legalize 2012," the institute is forming a fundraising board and a committee to work on the language of the initiative.
Representatives of the group could not be reached Friday afternoon. The group's Web site says they are considering language that would legalize the sale, production, transport and use of marijuana and allow for taxation and regulation of the industry in ways similar to the regulations around the production of alcohol.
The last statewide ballot initiative to legalize marijuana -- Amendment 44 in 2006 -- lost, 61 percent to 39 percent.
Since then, Nederland and Breckenridge residents have voted to legalize marijuana in largely symbolic ballot measures.
A Rasmussen poll in May of likely Colorado voters found that 49 percent favored legalizing and taxing marijuana, with 39 percent opposed and 13 percent undecided.
Stinson, who is not involved in Legalize 2012, said the proliferation of medical marijuana dispensaries created a backlash in many communities, but those who favor legalization are more organized and more numerous.
Stinson said the new regulations adopted by the General Assembly, which create strict licensing requirements for dispensaries, prohibit wholesale growing operations and regulate doctors who recommend marijuana, actually strengthen the argument for legalization.
In 2006, opponents argued that legalizing the personal use of marijuana would inevitably help criminals because there was no legal source of marijuana. Now that the state has created a regulatory and tax system for marijuana and there is a legal production system, that argument goes away, Stinson said.
"We've got considerably more manpower this time around, and the climate is a lot more favorable," Stinson said.
By Erica Meltzer Camera Staff Writer
Posted: 06/11/2010 10:26:23 PM MDT