Marijuana legalization stands to make a great deal of money for the government in the form of taxes and for those looking to join the growing marijuana industry. When money is involved, special interest groups get involved. Special interest groups are groups of people who have money to pay to lobby, or in other words, influence politicians to do what they want in their own interest. Other interest groups may be people are biased against marijuana, for example police officers who don’t understand the details of the effects of marijuana or those who consider it a substance that is no different than heroin. The Amendment 64 Task force is comprised by special interests and people against marijuana who Governor Hickenlooper, outspoken as he was against marijuana in the past, put together to decide the fate of a law that you, the citizen voted for.
Now that Amendment 64 passed, it is the property of the people and not just special interest groups. It is time to be a pro-activist instead of re-activists and not stand idly by while the Governor’s Task Force attempts to thwart the will of the people because it is an amendment to the constitution and once in place, the regulations will be expensive and time consuming to change. The task force is comprised of people who are lawyers, politicians, medical marijuana business owners and even a person who specializes in marijuana addiction. Where are the people that the law was written for? When was the last time your opinion was sought on regulations impacting Amendment 64? It is time to make your voice heard in response to the proposed regulations that have been handed over to the Colorado General Assembly. These are regulations that impact us and yet we are not being heard, yet there are regulations that severely impact us, for example taxes may significantly increase the cost of marijuana.
Prohibition is not over. There are people whose imaginations are full of fear of what legalized marijuana will do to the community, never mind that people have been using marijuana medically in over 18 states without much incident. Amendment 64 is bringing out the chicken hawks of prohibition, ironically one being Governor Hickenlooper himself, a man whose fortunes were made in alcohol, a substance that causes deaths daily. According to Hickenlooper in speaking about marijuana legalization, “I’m not saying the sky is falling and we’re going to have thousands of homeless teenagers we didn’t have before, but we will have more.” Sounds like a case of reefer madness. This is his task force and the marijuana community and Colorado voters need to express their voices in numbers to ensure their votes aren’t undermined.
It looks like the State of Colorado is afraid of growth and innovation. It also looks like the will of the voters aren’t of much importance to them and that the states is more than happy to cater to marijuana industry representatives, because they of course have the money to buy the regulations in their favor. While there were a couple sensibly proposed regulations, such as discouraging minors from purchasing marijuana, there were some that obviously cater to current marijuana business owners and lobby groups, and others that just completely undermine the will of the voters.
Many of the proposed regulations that should have Colorado voters concerned that could make marijuana almost as prohibitive as it was before legalization. Regulations that stifle growth and innovation keep other people from becoming marijuana entrepreneurs so that the current marijuana business owners can keep a monopoly on the industry. Tax regulations and regulations limiting the amount of marijuana that can be purchased at a time and where it can be purchased are regulations that voters need to express their opinions and concerns about to make sure the will of the voter is not circumvented. Thomas Clark from The Daily Chronic provides the list of regulations proposed and here is an analysis of some of the proposed regulations that citizens who voted for should be concerned about provided by members of the Denver 420 Rally with input from fellow marijuana activists.
- Restricting marijuana purchases to only an eighth at a time is a direct violation of the will of voters. Considering that the Amendment currently allows for up to an ounce, this is in direct violation of the will of the voters. In fact, it is probably the most in violation of the will of the voters, followed by allowing localities to determine whether marijuana can be sold or not.
- Local and state approval for marijuana retailers allows local leaders to circumvent the popular vote and blatantly undermines the will of the voters. Amendment 64 was voted on by all of Colorado and allowing localities to determine whether they want to allow marijuana or not only by passes voter will, it could also continue to foster a black market, especially in rural areas where people will have to drive for miles, spending extra money on gas. Instead, it will be easier to go to local black market dealers. It is also short sighted on behalf of local governments because it robs cities and counties of revenue. It is shortsighted and also stifles innovation. Localities are missing out on opportunities for growth in revenue from new businesses and tourism over an irrational fear of a substance deemed less harmful than alcohol, yet these localities permit the sale of alcohol and cancer causing cigarettes.
- Only licensed medical marijuana centers can sell marijuana for the first year is concerning for two significant reason, it shows favor to the current marijuana lobby and severely stifles innovation. It is no secret in the marijuana community that certain local wealthy marijuana business owners have been paying significant amounts of money, prohibitive to many, to join marijuana trade **read lobby group** associations, host expensive parties and gain unfair influence on many political and powerful community members effectively shutting out others with good ideas, but less access to wealth. It also shuts out those who have ideas that are new that could contribute to the growing economy enabling stronger economic growth that is desperately needed today.
- Enact marijuana taxes that are higher than those on cigarettes but lower than alcohol, including a 15% excise tax paid by shop owners. Sales taxes have not been determined, which means that there is a significant need for civic action as these taxes could end up becoming prohibitive. Remember, the first step to marijuana prohibition was the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937. Police and other people against marijuana legalization may argue that higher taxes are necessary to enforce regulations and pay for law enforcement. Yet, a study conducted by RAND Corporation, a study that the Justice Department ordered the think tank to take down, showed that marijuana communities police their own.
- Provide law enforcement officers with new training to catch impaired drivers. This is a highly contentious argument where civil liberties are concerned since the only way to determine recent marijuana use is through taking blood, which is still not 100% accurate. It is arguable what amount actually impairs a driver since marijuana effects people differently, an argument yet to be had and has roots understanding of why marijuana effects people differently, for example, it makes some people anxious and others not, some people lazy and others ambitious, some people sharp and others “stoned”, the latter being a reason why cannabis has been studied for the treatment of Attention Deficit Disorder. Other things to consider are the obvious, such as considering that someone can smoke marijuana in the early morning or late at night, and no longer be intoxicated, especially regular users, such as medical marijuana patients, and yet still be charged for being intoxicated. This is especially concerning for those who use marijuana medicinally, no different than a person using prescription drugs.
- Allow employers to prohibit off the job marijuana use by employees. This seems almost as violating to civil liberties as the PATRIOT Act and seriously violates personal freedom and the will of voters. It especially violates right to work in that it discriminates against medical marijuana patients, the very people who the marijuana laws were created in the first. This puts more power in the hands of corporations to discriminate against people and hold them at the mercy of employers. It is very aggressive way of showing voters that businesses are not friendly to personal marijuana use, even if it is on personal time. This is an outrage! Furthermore, since over 50% of the state voted for medical marijuana, it stands to reason that employers could be hurting themselves by losing good talent and the expense of individual freedom on one’s personal time. Maybe this is what Gov. Hickenlooper was referring to about homeless teenagers. Last, but not least, this is yet another stripping of innovation that could lead to economic growth.
- Restricting marijuana advertising to be regulated similarly to existing alcohol and tobacco regulations undermines the medicinal use of marijuana and the potential for market growth in that industry, not to mention short-sighted when considering economic growth. There are businesses forming focused on the study and promotion of marijuana and its positive health effects. This is yet another proposed regulation that stifles innovation.
- Ban on marijuana being used in bars and restaurants, which could impact potential cannabis clubs. An overall banning of public marijuana use in designated establishments will hurt the potential economic growth. Similar to laws that allow people to smoke in tobacco shops or drink alcohol in bars, marijuana should be allowed to be used in private settings, whether in a business that sell marijuana or in someone’s home. The law was to regulate marijuana like alcohol and obviously it was the will of the voters to have designated places to enjoy marijuana instead of hiding in their homes.
- Prohibit growing marijuana outdoors. This needs to be defined further as there is legitimate concern over cross-pollination of hemp plants with female cannabis plants stifles innovation. This is something that needs to be discussed to determine what outdoors means specifically, for example, is a nursery considered outdoors?
- Seed to sale marijuana regulatory system. This will be a costly system to maintain. It is designed to ensure that marijuana vendors aren’t selling more than the legal limit and gives the state control of all marijuana growth, production and sales. While this is a good idea to keep records in any business, voters need to endure that this system maintains privacy. Another concern is that to track the seed to sale process the state of Colorado may recommend that the sales of marijuana be conducted by the state, similar to state owned liquor stores found in states like Virginia, completely taking out the innovative and potential economic windfall that could significantly boost Colorado’s economy at a time when unemployment is at an all time high.
The proposed regulations have been sent to the state’s General Assembly were representatives will approve them. This means now is the time for civic action! Just because Amendment 64 passed doesn’t mean that there isn’t more civic action needed. In fact, if we don’t do anything there stands a chance that the amendment will get over-regulated and we will be back fighting for marijuana freedom all over again. It has taken decades to this far, we can’t stop now! Show solidarity by going to the task force meetings and voice your concerns and ideas. Contact your representatives about regulations that are undermining the will of the voters! You can find your district and state representative at http://denver.cbslocal.com/2013/03/06/amend-64-author-reacts-to-u-n-pushing-for-legal-pot-challenge/.
The Denver 420 Rally, the nation’s largest historic rally to end global marijuana prohibition is more than just an assembly of people to share their grievances to the government and celebrate the marijuana culture; it is the marijuana culture and embodies it all people from all walks of life. Now that marijuana is legal in Colorado, we are the example setters to the rest of the world. This means that we are the benchmark for which the rest of the world will measure the marijuana community. It is important to remember that we bear the responsibility of the image of marijuana while maintaining our cultural and individual expressions.
Marijuana legalization began in Colorado with medical marijuana, meaning that it was founded in the spirit of caring and compassion. Some people choose to use it recreationally or spiritually. Be sure to always use marijuana responsibility. Teach the world that we can use marijuana and be positive contributors to society. You can be for it, or be from it, just remember to represent it in a way that provides the rest of the world with an example of responsible adult marijuana use.