Why Pot Legalization Should Have Passed in Colorado

Amendment 44, by SaferChoice, was on Colorado's ballot this year. It would have legalized adult possession of up to one ounce of pot. The measure passed in Denver in 2004, and this was an attempt to make it state-wide. It failed.

For anyone who is interested, NORML has put up the audio of my talk to college kids the week before the election on why it should pass and why it is so critical for young people to register to vote and then weigh in on election day. It's about 15 minutes long.

Kids are the future. If you have a political pulpit to reach them, please use it. Rome wasn't built in a day and the Amendment will be back in 2008.

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    CA passed (5.00 / 1) (#4)
    by Che's Lounge on Wed Dec 27, 2006 at 01:39:18 PM EST
    Prop 215 in 1996, allowing adults with some chronic debilitating illnesses to get prescriptions for medicinal pot, and register dispensaries that distribute it. We have had it for ten years and in that time there has been little change in overall pot use by kids under 18.

    This last year the San Diego and San Bernardino County supervisors went to federal court to overturn it. They were basically laughed out of court.

    Decriminalization and regulation of MJ will more effectively keep it out of the hands of minors. This, along with a sensible educational awareness program (DARE was a joke at my kid's school), will reduce underage usage, save law enforcement resources, reduce smuggling and trafficking, and cut crime by reducing arrests and convictions.

    Indeed. (none / 0) (#5)
    by Gabriel Malor on Wed Dec 27, 2006 at 01:48:12 PM EST
    Your third paragraph is right on. I would add that decriminalization has the potential to create a badly needed source of revenue for pharmaceutical companies who face growing costs for development of new drugs and ever more litigious consumers and at the same time keep that money from shady dealers and traffickers.

    Legalize vs. Decriminalize (none / 0) (#6)
    by kdog on Wed Dec 27, 2006 at 01:52:45 PM EST
    But wouldn't we need full on legalization for that Gabe?

    The way I understand decriminalization is that it would simply do away with criminal charges for possession; while growing, selling, and distributing would still be criminal.


    L v. D (none / 0) (#18)
    by Gabriel Malor on Wed Dec 27, 2006 at 04:37:37 PM EST
    kdog, well, I guess we'd have to decriminalize growing, selling, and distributing, too. I was responding to Che's call for decriminalizing and regulating, which, I assumed would include allowing growing, selling, and distributing.

    As far as "handing it over" to drug companies, I don't foresee every user deciding to grow it on their own. In the same way that tobacco can be grown legally and yet hardly anyone does it, I'd expect to see an industry grow around its production. As, the drug industry is already poised with distribution networks for regulated substances and it needs the revenue, I just kind of expected that it'd be a natural fit.


    no comparison (none / 0) (#19)
    by squeaky on Wed Dec 27, 2006 at 04:49:44 PM EST
    In the same way that tobacco can be grown legally and yet hardly anyone does it
    Growing tobacco and processing it to smoke is like nuclear physics compared to growing weed.

    Why do you think that they call it weed?


    I confess (none / 0) (#21)
    by Gabriel Malor on Wed Dec 27, 2006 at 05:24:39 PM EST
    I confess, I know next to nothing about marijuana. I'm all for making it available, but I hope you don't expect me to accept its use in public spaces. I've rather gotten accustomed to the smoke-free atmosphere in L.A. County. Living in London was murder on my lungs.

    Whoa, whoa, whoa (none / 0) (#7)
    by aw on Wed Dec 27, 2006 at 01:55:26 PM EST
    create a badly needed source of revenue for pharmaceutical companies

    Why would you want to hand over a weed that can be obtained for free to the pharmaceutical companies?  Sorry, we don't need them.  Let them rip off the people with something they actually invented using basic research they paid for themselves.  And they can cut their gargantuan marketing expenses if they're so hard up.


    badly needed source of revenue (none / 0) (#8)
    by Edger on Wed Dec 27, 2006 at 01:58:48 PM EST
    The pharmaceutical companies are shady dealers and traffickers.

    BTW.... (none / 0) (#9)
    by kdog on Wed Dec 27, 2006 at 02:12:04 PM EST
    How did the local reefer-man get stuck with this "shady" label anyway?  

    I find my guy to be quite trustworthy.  The count is always right, quality is high, interest-free financing, free delivery, freebies at Christmas time....if anything the black market makes dealers more dilligent in their customer service, its not like you can place some new ads if you lose customers.  They work hard to keep the ones they have.

    Nothing puts a reefer-man out of business faster than shadyness...except maybe 5-0.


    I find my guy to be quite trustworthy (none / 0) (#10)
    by Edger on Wed Dec 27, 2006 at 02:13:24 PM EST
    The only only ones who stay in business, or sometimes able to walk, are the honest ones.

    stuttering (none / 0) (#11)
    by Edger on Wed Dec 27, 2006 at 02:14:28 PM EST
    The "onliest" ones....

    Better? ;-)


    Potheads (1.00 / 1) (#1)
    by koshembos on Wed Dec 27, 2006 at 07:55:49 AM EST
    We are not winning the war on drugs, but we are not losing either. What a farce.

    We aren't?.... (5.00 / 2) (#2)
    by kdog on Wed Dec 27, 2006 at 09:02:28 AM EST
    Not sure which "war" you are watching....but I've seen untold billions lost and untold families thrown through the criminal justive ringer...for what?

    I can get you any drug you what within the hour...that's not losing?

    This "war" wasn't waged to be won, it can't be won.  Human beings have been searching for a high for thousands of years. It is being waged because people profit off of it.  


    Until you call for alcohol prohibition... (5.00 / 2) (#3)
    by Dadler on Wed Dec 27, 2006 at 10:39:34 AM EST
    ...You're merely engaged in an irrational prejudice against a plant infinitely less harmful.

    Procedurally Speaking (none / 0) (#12)
    by drshaffer on Wed Dec 27, 2006 at 02:14:56 PM EST
    Why should it be passed via an amendment to the Constitution rather and through the legislature?  

    Maybe... (none / 0) (#14)
    by kdog on Wed Dec 27, 2006 at 02:32:53 PM EST
    because our federal and state legislatures have been bought by the prison, law enforcement, alcohol, tobacco, and pharmacuetical lobbies.  Constitutional amendments maybe our only hope....if 40 years of a failed war on drugs won't open their eyes, nothing will.  Blinded by campaign dollars, they are.

    Legalization of marijuana (none / 0) (#13)
    by Yes2Truth on Wed Dec 27, 2006 at 02:30:02 PM EST

    It is extremely unlikely that marijuana will be legalized, because (illegal) drugs trafficking (by various intelligence organizations) is an integral source of funds for meta-intelligence operations worldwide.

    Yes (5.00 / 1) (#15)
    by squeaky on Wed Dec 27, 2006 at 03:11:28 PM EST
    Digby nails it:

    According to a Drug Enforcement Administration report obtained by The Times, Afghanistan's poppy fields have become the fastest-growing source of heroin in the United States. Its share of the U.S. market doubled from 7% in 2001, the year U.S. forces overthrew the Taliban, to 14% in 2004, the latest year studied. Another DEA report, released in October, said the 14% actually could be significantly higher....

    ...Despite the agency's own reports, a DEA spokesman denied that more heroin was reaching the United States from Afghanistan. "We are NOT seeing a nationwide spike in Afghanistan-based heroin," Garrison K. Courtney wrote in an e-mail to The Times.....

    ....The agency declined to give The Times the report on the doubling of Afghan heroin into the U.S. A copy was provided by the office of U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), a member of the Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control.

    You know, I hate to be suspicious of such things, but it seems as if every time we get into one of these boondoggle wars, a whole bunch of hard drugs fine their way back to America. I can't say for sure that it's not a coincidence, but you really do have to wonder why it is that when anybody implies that the government might just be involved, they are hounded and discredited.


    Yes (none / 0) (#16)
    by Edger on Wed Dec 27, 2006 at 03:39:10 PM EST
    you really do have to wonder why it is that when anybody implies that the government might just be involved, they are hounded and discredited.

    But after a little while of wondering, you stop wondering...


    Tax Dollars at Work (none / 0) (#17)
    by squeaky on Wed Dec 27, 2006 at 04:06:53 PM EST
    The White House Office of National Drug Policy paid for a 5-year, $43 million study which concluded their anti-drug ad campaigns did not work -- but it refused to release those findings to Congress.


    Brilliant! (none / 0) (#20)
    by kdog on Wed Dec 27, 2006 at 05:21:40 PM EST
    You just can't make this stuff up.

    There is one of your drug war "winners" right there, the company that crooked the govt. out of some of that cash.

    If you wanna give it away, how about some public works projects and at least have something to show for it and only half the loot gets stolen.  I can live with that.


    Isn't the question (none / 0) (#22)
    by jimakaPPJ on Wed Dec 27, 2006 at 10:05:44 PM EST
    on how to change the law, not the reliability of dealers, safety vs alcohol, etc.?

    To repeat the obvious, I think that the answer is to push regulation of pot as a means to better control it and keep it away from kids.

    The next step is how to detect use and the ability to operate vehicles. How would you do that?
    I assume a blood test would do it. Again assuming that an easy to use portable test device could be invented (perhaps it already is)... would you be willing to push for its use by the police?

    If you wouldn't then you have almost no argument for regulation as a means to control the use.

    It the meantime, as I told my kids, "Don't give me the old it's safer than..... argument. It's illegal and the results of using it are not greater than the downside of getting arrested and maybe going to jail... Not to mention me spending your college funds on an attorney for you."

    Regulation implications (none / 0) (#23)
    by syinco on Wed Dec 27, 2006 at 11:06:32 PM EST
    Assuming regulation is the appropriate direction, then holding that regulation provisions should be enforceable seems a reasonable position.

    Precisely what those provisions are, the manner in which they are enforced, and the extent to which they are enforced seems very much up for debate, and probably part and parcel with the argument for regulation.

    An objection to a specific means of enforcement does not derail the overall argument.  A general objection to a specific provision may in some cases, practically-speaking, undermine the argument.  

    If it's the consensus that driving under the influence of marijuana is both likely and serious enough to warrant specific provisions regarding that behavior, say, in the form of criminal laws, then favoring regulation while objecting to such provisions absent of reasonable alternatives does seem somewhat contradictory.

    However, we already have such laws without (as far as I know) a device such as what you suggest, and I know that they are enforceable because people are successfully prosecuted for driving under the influence of marijuana.  Perhaps marijuana use would become sufficiently more widespread to warrant further enforcement measures (e.g. new means of detection), perhaps not.

    Besides, isn't it the regulation of the right to use public roadways that established drinking and driving laws, rather than the regulation of alcohol itself?

    And your comment did make me wonder how the pharmaceutical companies have managed to abide by regulation all these years without cops drawing blood on the roadside (not a pleasant thought).  Maybe warning labels on marijuana packets will be sufficient ... ;)

    Nonetheless, point taken.  If regulation is the course, then acceptance of some accompanying provisions is to be expected.


    Provisions (none / 0) (#24)
    by squeaky on Wed Dec 27, 2006 at 11:20:59 PM EST
    On site physical aptitude test to determine driving impairment, like walking a straight line, etc, would seem the most reasonable, that is, presuming  probable cause.

    Blood tests would show mj use for the last week or two which and shows nothing about impaired driving.