Marijuana legalization efforts undermined by immigration ruling?
"So the No on 64 campaign is engaging in what we've seen for the past eighty years -- fairly baseless scare tactics. They're trying to threaten Colorado voters -- trying to scare them into moving away from what they truly believe. We think more and more Coloradans understand that marijuana should be regulated and taxed, and that the state will be a safer place, with larger tax coffers, when this passes."
By and large, Vicente notes, "the feds have had a hands-off approach to medical marijuana dispensaries in Colorado. They've been active in some of the zoning issues, trying to shut down dispensaries they feel are in the wrong zone. But they've respected the will of the state legislature and the state voters to decide on their own medical marijuana policies, and we believe they'll do the same for a broader adult market."
A court challenge is possible should Amendment 64 win voter approval, Vicente concedes. But he thinks the way the measure is written would make such an effort difficult.
"Essentially, our initiative changes state criminal law. The only possession-related arrests that take place in Colorado are prosecuted under state law, and that law would be gone. So for the federal government, for the first time in history, to flex its muscles and prosecute a 45-year-old man for possession of a small amount of marijuana is just totally implausible."
Even Sherman admits that the feds almost certainly won't go after individual marijuana users. But he thinks "what's important is the larger issue -- whether it's constitutionally legal for a state to take a position in its constitution that's directly in violation of federal law. And there are issues for employers that should raise some concerns. Does this put federal grants, federal funding, federal projects in jeopardy when there are still drug-free workplace requirements attached to those kinds of things? So there are a lot of issues around the conflict with federal law."
The bottom line from Sherman's perspective: "I think the federal government has made a distinction between medical marijuana and recreational marijuana. I think it's in a whole different category, and I would expect they would be handling it differently."
Here's the Supreme Court's ruling on Arizona SB-1070.
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More from our Marijuana archive: "Medical marijuana: Nathan Do, target in Cherry Top Farms raid, killed in crash."