By Mason Tvert
An historic effort is now underway 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.
In summary, the proposed constitutional amendment would 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 full text of the initiative is available on the campaign’s new website.
Earlier this month, a broad coalition of activists, organizations, businesses, and professionals launched the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, which will serve as the driving force behind the measure. Among its core 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 Just Say Now.
The campaign is currently in the initial stages of the petition drive to qualify the initiative for the November 2012 ballot. Approximately 86,000 signatures of registered Colorado voters are required, and the campaign has set a goal of 140,000 total signatures to ensure enough of them are valid. This is a very difficult 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 and coalition-building efforts are also underway so the campaign can immediately kick into high gear following the petitioning drive.
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.
Not only will the success of this initiative 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. And the “how?” With your support. So please take some time to check out the campaign and become part of an effort that will be written about in history books for years to come.