Fri August 5, 2011
Marijuana Policy

One Marijuana Legalization Effort Gets Underway This Week

A retired Denver police officer has joined one effort to legalize marijuana for recreational use in Colorado.  A coalition began gathering signatures this week to put the issue before Colorado voters next year.

The officer is now with the national group Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, or LEAP. They’re one of several groups rallying behind a statewide initiative to regulate marijuana like alcohol, which backers hope to get onto Colorado ballots in 2012.  The measure would make small amounts of marijuana legal for adults over 21.

"If we were to regulate marijuana like alcohol, take it out of the black market, we could ensure young people are not getting it – or at least not getting it as easily,” says Mason Tvert, Executive Director of the advocacy group SAFER, and a proponent of the initiative. “We could ensure the quality of the product, and of course we could also generate tens of millions of dollars in new tax revenue that could benefit the people of Colorado.”

Supporters need to gather about 86,000 signatures in the next six months to make it onto the ballot. Tvert says they expect to have between 10 and 15,000 by the end of this weekend. Eight initiatives to legalize or regulate marijuana for recreational use have been submitted for 2012 – though not all are likely to qualify for the ballot.

Even if a measure is passed by Colorado voters, use of the drug would still be prohibited under federal law; although an act has been introduced in Congress that, if passed, would allow states to set their own laws and policies.