Marijuana legalization ballot measures language not likely to change much

Categories: Marijuana

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Today, eight proposed 2012 marijuana legalization ballot measures were considered by the Colorado Office of Legislative and Legal Services.

However, few changes were made and little was said by the initiatives' backers.

Brian Vicente and Mason Tvert, who are leading the push for the measures, both looked on quietly as their counsel, Ed Ramey, fielded most of the inquiries.

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Brian Vicente
The meeting is required by state law to help clarify legal language of ballot initiatives. It's a chance for the state to identify ambiguous language. Any changes made outside of the state's recommendations would require resubmitting the proposal.

Several activists representing groups opposed the initiatives due to what they see as a lack of community input were in attendance, though no public comment was taken.

Kurt Morrison and Jane Ritter, both with the Colorado Office of Legislative and Legal Services, traded off questions, asking about the intent of the proposals and their similarities. Ramey said their intention is to create a "framework for the lawful use, regulation and taxation of marijuana in the state" and stressed that the group plans to move forward with only one of the bills -- although he didn't say when a final decision would be made.

Suggestions included clarifying references to the state's medical marijuana laws and flip-flopping "ensure" and "insure." Morrison and Ritter also wanted more specifics about what the phrase "under the age of 21" meant.

However, a few questions were more pointed, including Ritter's focus on the description of how much marijuana a legal adult could possesses. Draft versions of the bill that floated around before the hearing had vague language allowing possession of an ounce as well as the ability to grow six plants. Noting the confusion, Ramey deferred to Vicente, who said the intent of the bill is "to allow adults 21 and over to possess up to one ounce of marijuana, also to have six plants of marijuana and also to have the resulting harvest of those plants on the premises where they are grown."

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Mason Tvert.
Regulation of marijuana would be left up to the Department of Revenue, despite suggestions from the state that other agencies may be more appropriate. Ramey said the Department of Revenue is "the appropriate regulatory agency, much like the same way they are with alcoholic beverages. We certainly would hope that, to the extent consultation of other state agencies would be helpful to the Department of Revenue, they would do so to the extent that would be appropriate." He also noted that public and private schools and colleges would have the right to ban marijuana on their property.

The meeting ended in under twenty minutes, with no comment from Vicente or Tvert after the questioning. View each ballot measure and the comments here.

More from our Marijuana archive: "Medical marijuana: 9 license rejections, 50 fines, says enforcement division's Dan Hartman."

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29 comments
Robert
Robert

Marijuana legalization ballot measures language not going to change at all

I am informed that Brian filed the initiatives with the Secretary of State today (my previous allusions to his having filed the intitiatives with the Secretary of State should have referenced the Office of Legislative and Legal Services instead).  None of the offending language has been removed or modified.  If legalization proponents want to see a different proposal on the ballot, they will have to submit an initiative, have it vetted, and then qualify it for the ballot.  The national coalition plans to proceed to start collecting signatures for one of their intitiatives soon after the Title Setting Review Board hearing, without regard for our objections or efforts to draft a better initiative.  If those efforts proceed, we face the possibility of a collision between two legalization measures on the ballot in 2012. 

concernedparentandtaxpayer
concernedparentandtaxpayer

Jesus said to do unto others as we would have them to do unto us. None of us would want our child thrown in jail with the sexual predators over marijuana. None of us would want to see an older family member’s home confiscated and sold by the police for growing a couple of marijuana plants for their aches and pains. How about $100 for a permit to grow a dozen plants?  Also, check out  w w w . northpoint.org/  if you’d like to see some very positive material about Jesus at work in people’s lives

Guest
Guest

After reading through the proposed language a few times, I believe it is a step in the right direction.  It is very thorough and will co-exist with existing medical marijuana laws.  Medical marijuana laws (patient plant counts and product limits) will be unaffected with the exception of additional rights to marijuana access and use.  -- Good job Brian and Mason!  This is language to support in my opinion.

Guest
Guest

I guess the only thing I would change is "DRIVING UNDER THE INFLUENCE OF MARIJUANA SHALL REMAIN ILLEGAL"

Guest
Guest

Nevermind...I think the driving language is good given the wording in the colorado duid law....i'll quit replying to myself.  :)

Section 42-4-1301

(1)                                                                                              (f) "Driving under the influence" means driving a vehicle when a person has consumed alcohol or one or more drugs, or a combination of alcohol and one or more drugs, which alcohol alone, or one or more drugs alone, or alcohol combined with one or more drugs affects the person to a degree that the person is substantially incapable, either mentally or physically, or both mentally and physically, to exercise clear judgment, sufficient physical control, or due care in the safe operation of a vehicle.

http://www.1800dialdui.com/CM/...

Robert
Robert

All references to "... shall remain illegal" must be removed from the 'Purpose and findings', because the purpose of the initiative is not to maintain the illegality of offenses related to cannabis.  There are obvious defects in the initiatives which grassroots activists would have removed already had we been included in the drafting.  I believe that it is necessary to accept various arbitrary restrictions on cannabis in order to win passage, but the.proponents have very deliberately not laid out their case for these restrictions.  I hope that Steve Fox comes to CTI's Great Legalization Debate fully prepared to make that case to the community at large.

instntkrma
instntkrma

it's hard as hell to figure out who the good guys are on the mmj legalization front!  

from what I have seen, the movement is the movement's biggest enemy.

Corey Donahue
Corey Donahue

No it's pretty easy.  Do you want to only be allowed to have six plants and one oz?

Neil
Neil

You can have up to 2 ounces now and its a petty offense and a $100 fine, what is this one ounce shit? I can buy 50 bottles of Vodka without question and by placing language with an ounce limit they are saying 'yes we admit marijuana is more dangerous than alcohol and therefore it should be limited'. I'd rather keep it the way it is.'

wtfk
wtfk

Since six plants produces significantly more than one ounce, I'm pretty sure one ounce isn't working.  There's also a huge problem with CLONES.  Matt Cook was happy to inform me that there's "precedent" for clones being plants.

Robert
Robert

Neil, I believe that I have expressed myself clearly.  You don't believe in the existence of many tens of thousands of voters (most of whom neither of us know and whose views on cannabis differ substantially from our own).  The people who are in possession of some of the data suggesting that such voters exist tell me that some of it is "proprietary", and they have not been forthcoming about it, or much else.  If you want to press them for it, ask MPP to send Steve Fox with all his data to CTI's Great Legalization Debate.

 I do not believe in trying to pander to prohibitionists in a constitutional amendment to re-legalize cannabis, but I am realistic enough to understand that we cannot expect to end the War on Americans (which is not just about cannabis) in 2012.  Any measure which promises to drastically reduce criminal liability associated with the use of cannabis is worthy of consideration, and the national coalition's initiatives do so on their face.

Neil
Neil

Robert, do you really believe there are people out there that say to themselves 'ya know I really believe cannabis should be legal but 4 oz is just way to much'? I don't think so. You say there are definitely people who would only vote yes if there are limits, who are they? Where are you getting this info from? A non user doesnt know the difference between an oz and a gram. These limits are placed in there solely to keep the Attorneys in business and that is it.

Robert
Robert

Neil, the point is that some voters, especially those who do not use cannabis and are ambivalent about it, do want limits -- your insistence that the electorate is divided into two camps is too simplistic.  You do not have to agree with these people or understand their tortured reasoning, but you cannot wish them out of existence, or (reasonably) discount the fact that they will vote in 2012

The national coalition has so far stonewalled us on providing the data upon which to base informed decisions about what is politically sound to put in the intitiative, and that is because the form of it comes down to like unto the Ten Commandments from Mt. Sinai.  It's too bad, because I think that several of the compromises they make are very likely necessary to win, and a well reasoned case could help unite the community behind their initiative.  If there is no movement on changing some of the pandering language in the initiative, and no greater openness on the part of the coalition supporting it, the community will continue to be riven by dissension.

Neil
Neil

Honestly Robert I don't think the average person is going to vote one way or another based on amount, they either believe it should be legal or they don't. By setting an oz limit it still leaves it criminalized. Furthermore, just as with A20 we will once again run into problems based on the wording, if you can grow 6 plants there's no way in hell to keep it under an oz.

Why arent they adding wording saying it shall be illegal for law enforcement to conduct marijuana raids or searches? Anyone that legally grows now is subject to their door being kicked in and their whole house turned upside down with zero repercussions, imagine if they started do that to gun owners, no one would stand for that. No one should have to worry that the govt is going to storm their house like the gestapo for doing something legal.

Robert
Robert

This is what it comes down to:  do you want possession of an ounce of cannabis to be treated as a petty offense (which still involves a fine and the confiscature of cannabis)?  Would you really prefer that it continue to be a felony to grow any cannabis whatsoever?  The arbitrary limits on the amounts of cannabis one may grow or possess appeal to some voters in the middle -- we need to garner many votes from people who don't use cannabis if we hope to win!  The ongoing refusal of many in the community to acknowledge the existence of the mass of voters bespeaks an incredible political naiveté or worse.

Robert
Robert

I propose that we take poll of three dozen people living within a mile of where we live. The poll should consist of the following three questions:1) Should the private possession, use, and cultivation of cannabis by adults be made legal on any terms?2) (If so) should possession and cultivation of cannabis in more than limited personal amounts remain illegal?3) (If so) should adults be able to buy cannabis in stores as readily as they do liquor?

Granted, the wording of the questions is not the most sympathetic to our cause, and thirty-six people living within a mile are not a good representative sample of Longmont or Capitol Hill, still, I'd be curious to know how many people in Longmont would make it past question 1.  I expect that of those who did, several might answer question 2 in the affirmative.  Substitute "beer" for "liquor" and you might lose a few more at question 3.

I do not say that we should just accept the language of the extant initiatives as being that most consonant with the mood of the electorate, but proposing a legalization initiative in a vacuum, without reference to the majority of voters who do not use cannabis is pointless.

instntkrma
instntkrma

when is cti filing their proposal?

wtfk
wtfk

Explain yourself.  I'm very open to their legalization philosophy.  This bridge is intact.

Guest
Guest

To bad CTI and their gang burned every bridge in Colorado.

Corey Donahue
Corey Donahue

We are having a constitutional debate of the June 22 at Castlemans in Denver open to the public so it will be an initiative of the people of the state of Colorado so it will be our proposal and it will expand a lot more freedoms then the out of state "legalization" initiatives.

Corey Donahue
Corey Donahue

3. Personal Use of Marijuana.

NOTWITHSTANDING ANY OTHER PROVISION OF LAW, THE FOLLOWING ACTS ARE NOT UNLAWFUL AND SHALL NOT BE AN OFFENSE UNDER COLORADO LAW OR THE LAW OF ANY LOCALITY WITHIN COLORADO OR BA A BASIS FOR OR FORFEITURE OF ASSETS UNDER COLORADO LAW FOR PERSONS TWENTY-ONE YEARS OF AGE OR OLDER:(A) POSSESSING, USING, DISPLAYING, PURCHASING, OR TRANSPORTING MARIJUANA ACCESSORIES OR ONE OUNCE OR LESS OF MARIJUANA.(B) POSSESSING, GROWING, PROCESSING, OR TRANSPORTING NO MORE THAN SIX PLANTS WERE GROWN, PROVIDED THAT THE GROWING TAKES PLACE IN AN ENCLOSED LOCKED SPACE, IS NOT CONDUCTED OPENLY OR PUBLICLY, AND IS NOT MADE AVAILABLE FOR SALE. (C) TRANSFER OF ONE OUNCE OR LESS OF MARIJUANA WITH OUT REMUNERATION TO A PERSON WHO IS TWENTY-ONE YEARS OF AGE OR OLDER.(D) CONSUMPTION OF MARIJUANA, PROVIDED THAT NOTHING IN THIS SECTION SHALL PERMIT CONSUMPTION THAT IS CONDUCTED OPENLY OR IN A PUBLIC MANNER THAT ENDANGERS OTHERS.  (E) ASSISTING ANOTHER PERSON WHO IS TWENTY-ONE YEARS OF AGE OR OLDER IN ANY OF THE ACTS DESCRIBED IN PARAGRAPHS (A) THROUGH (D) Of THIS SECTION.

So the language Safer, Sensible, MPP, DPA submitted for their legalization initiative for the Constitution of Colorado:A. Makes it illegal to have over 1ozB. Makes it illegal to have over 6 plants or grow outside C. Makes it illegal to give 1 oz and 1 gram to your friend on their birthday.D. Smoke in public or endanger others.E. Help you friend grow cannabis if its over 6 plants. 

A constitution's only reason for being is to grant the people power and limit the government.  This so called "legalization" initiative does the opposite grants the DOR all the power to regulate you and your six plants and 1 oz.  I am sorry boys tell your moneyed backers out in California, DC and New York they are not going to come in to Colorado and tell us how we should write our own constitution.  And here so you don't leave empty handed, as your owners would not like that, here is a Colorado saying, "In Colorado Water and Weed are for fightin and Whiskey is for drinkin."

Robert
Robert

"So the language Safer, Sensible, MPP, DPA submitted for their legalization initiative for the Constitution of Colorado:A. Makes it illegal to have over 1ozB. Makes it illegal to have over 6 plants or grow outside C. Makes it illegal to give 1 oz and 1 gram to your friend on their birthday. ..."

-- this is simply inaccurate; the provisions you cite do not make any act illegal.  There is language in the 'Purpose and findings' section which unnecessarily reaffirms the illegality of certain acts proscribed in statute, but there are no provisions in the initiatives which establish new crimes or penalties (unlike Proposition 19 in California).

Matt in Boulder
Matt in Boulder

Robert - did you miss this language that preceded the text Corey summarized? "NOTWITHSTANDING ANY OTHER PROVISION OF LAW, THE FOLLOWING ACTS ARE NOT UNLAWFUL" 

I'm no lawyer, but I believe that means all currently standing laws will remain in effect.  So, this amendment doesn't add new laws, but it also doesn't take away the harsh penalties associated with the current laws if you step over the line.  That's quite a cliff! 

According to NORML (http://norml.org/index.cfm?Gro..."Any other transfer, sale, manufacture or cultivation is a felony, punishable by 2 – 4 years in prison and a fine of $2,000 - $500,000 and a $1,500 surcharge."

Doing 2 - 4 years prison time for growing 1 plant outdoors seems pretty ridiculous when it is perfectly legal to grow 6 plants indoors. 

Robert
Robert

Matt, that particular restriction is galling and stupid (though, again, possibly significant for some voters); perhaps the proponents should add a section to the effect that in order to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions and tremendous waste of energy involved in growing cannabis under artificial illumination, cultivating plants securely on private property so that they cannot be seen from outside shall not be unlawful.

Matt in Boulder
Matt in Boulder

Robert - I know these comment boards aren't a good way to communicate, and suspect that if we were speaking face-to-face we would find that we generally agree.  Everyone has their pet issue regarding how we should go about re-legalizing.  One of mine happens to be that of outdoor vs. indoor growing.  I can't think of any reason why the Colorado constitution should be amended in such a way that requires a plant to be grown in artificial environments when we live in a state with ample sunshine.  If anyone believes otherwise, I'd like to see their supporting data because I don't believe it exists.  (end of rant)

Robert
Robert

It is true that the initiatives leave in place laws with harsh penalties which interfere with our right to use cannabis, but the phrase you quote clearly introduces the enumeration of those acts which would not be unlawful.  We believe these laws are unjust, and were we to succeed in making it legal to growing six plants, sending people to prison for growing seven might come to seem ridiculous to a majority of voters, but that is not the case now.  It is no better than a rhetorical conceit to insinuate that we can choose instead to rescind all aspects of Prohibition; polling data and historical election results strongly suggest otherwise.  I find it really annoying to be forced to argue for applying reason to the process of drafting an intitiative, and to be required to remind supporters of legalization of the larger political reality of voters who do not use cannabis, many of whom have negative opinions about its use which make them difficult or impossible to persuade, in every single post on the subject -- but if you all keep pretending, I'll keep reminding.

Robert
Robert

Ramey said the proponents accepted most of the suggestions made by the Colorado Office of Legislative and Legal Services, but (afterwards) he would not answer my criticism that it is inappropriate to include the phrase "it shall remain illegal to ..." in a constitutional amendment to establish the right to use cannabis (from his response I inferred that he agreed, but would not say so because it was not in his clients' interest) -- there is reactionary and defective rhetoric which must be excised from the initiatives.  On the other hand, the intitiative must be unambiguous, and it is true that the use of cannabis in schools, the workplace, or while driving is problematic for many voters.  Some exclusionary language may be necessary, but this intitiative must be primarliy an affirmation of our rights, not an attempt to pander to our fears.

Robert
Robert

P.S.  The phaseology used is actually that various crimes related to cannabis "shall remain illegal".  The texts of all eight versions and the comments of the Office of Legislative and Legal Services ar at http://www.leg.state.co.us/LCS... .  It is striking how a number of the comments relate to basic deficiencies in the form of the initiatives filed -- all the legal acumen brought to bear resulted in sloppy documents not adhering to standard forms for such legal language or even the proper designation of the provisions!  Notable among the bits which the Office thought needed clarification was this reference:  "In Paragraph (D) of Subsection 3, the proponents may wish to clarify what they mean (or do not mean) by the phrase "consumption of marijuana ... in a manner that endangers others" -- indeed!

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