The campaign is up and running to pass a statewide ballot initiative that will end marijuana prohibition in Colorado in 2012.
All the polls show public support at a record high and suggest this might in fact be the best opportunity yet to pass such a measure. Although California is also likely to have a legalization initiative on the 2012 ballot, all eyes are on Colorado thanks to its accelerated growth in public support for reform - perhaps the result of its current state-regulated medical marijuana system - and its smaller geographic size, which translates to a less expensive campaign.
In summary, the proposed constitutional amendment, titled the Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Initiative, will:
-remove all penalties for private adult possession and limited home growing,
-establish a system similar to alcohol in which there are licensed retail stores, cultivation facilities, product manufacturing, and testing, and
-allows for the cultivation, processing, and sales of industrial hemp.
The driving force behind the initiative, the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, is being spearheaded by a broad coalition of activists, organizations, businesses, and professionals. Among its initial members are Colorado’s two largest marijuana reform organizations, Safer Alternative For Enjoyable Recreation (SAFER) and Sensible Colorado, as well as several of the nation’s largest and most widely recognized reform organizations, including the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), the Drug Policy Alliance, the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP), Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP), and the Just Say Now campaign.
The campaign is about one month and 20,000 signatures into the petition drive, and it will need approximately 86,000 valid signatures of registered Colorado voters to qualify for the November 2012 ballot. Since many signatures end up being invalidated, the goal is to collect at least 140,000 total signatures to ensure it makes the cut. Qualifying for the ballot is no easy process, so the campaign is recruiting, training, and mobilizing an army of volunteers from around the state to get involved and help get the job done. Significant grassroots organizing, public education, and coalition-building efforts are also in the works.
Like all of the marijuana reform efforts in Colorado over the past several years, this will be an aggressive, volunteer-powered, grassroots campaign. And, as in the past, its success will be driven by the support of the hundreds of thousands of people in Colorado – and millions nationwide – who want to bring about an end to marijuana prohibition.
The success of this initiative will be historic, making Colorado the first state in the country - and the first geographic region in the world -- to bring about an end to marijuana prohibition and establish a legal marijuana market for adults. As a result, it won't only have a major impact on Colorado; it will set off a major chain reaction that forces other states, as well as the federal government, to begin strongly reconsidering their approaches to marijuana policy. After all, they will be directly confronted with the realization at which many of us have already arrived – legalization is no longer a question of “if,” but “when.” The answer is 2012. the “how?” With your support.
Visit www.RegulateMarijuana.org to find out more about the initiative, the campaign, and how you can get involved.