Marijuana: Initiative 70 would make pot use a right, regulate it like tobacco
Last Friday, the Cannabis Alliance for Regulation and Education began collecting signatures for Initiative 70, the third legalization measure to be proposed for the November elections. We caught up with spokesman Rico Colibri, who broke down his proposal and why he feels it is Colorado's best option for ending cannabis prohibition in 2012.
Initiative 70 is definitely not a clone of Amendment 64, the Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol plan, which has already been approved for the November ballot. The measure would make consumption, possession and limited personal cultivation a constitutional right in Colorado -- legal for anyone 21 and up -- and would allow commercial cannabis sales, regulated similarly to existing tobacco sales. In addition, the proposal would remove any of the current laws and penalties associated with cannabis use, distribution and cultivation. And it would also pave the way for industrial hemp in Colorado by demanding agricultural regulations from the Department of Agriculture.
For Colibri, the key attribute is making marijuana use a right in Colorado. This issue is at the heart of two court cases involving medical marijuana. The first involves Jason Benior, a street sweeper and MMJ patient who was denied benefits after being fired for failing a drug test. However, a court found no right to use marijuana even for state-approved patients. More recently, Brandon Coats, a medical marijuana patient who is 80 percent paralyzed, is appealing the dismissal of a lawsuit after he, too, was fired (by Dish Network) after testing positive for THC.
Coats's attorney thinks MMJ patients could be fired en masse if his client loses his argument. On that subject, Colibri asks, "How can you be a responsible cannabis user without a job?"
Colibri adds that his proposal would legalize marijuana use in public spaces, much as is the case at coffee shops in Amsterdam. "The beauty of our language is, we want to be able to go to a place with responsible adults and consume with other responsible adults. You can do that with a hookah bar. [Amendment 64]'s language doesn't legalize anything; it decriminalizes."
Initiative 70 would limit personal cultivation to a quarter-pound per month. However, there would be no limits on the amount of cannabis purchased at a shop. Colibri says the language is modeled after federal home-brewing laws that limit the amount of untaxed beer a private individual can manufacture at home.
"That's an eighth a day," Colibri said. "If you want to go to a cannabis retailer because you're having a party or whatever and need more, great. There is no limit [to how much you can purchase]. But you never have to buy from anyone nor pay a dime if you don't want."
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