Marijuana initiatives: Why three alternatives to Amendment 64 didn't make ballot
Last February, when Amendment 64, the Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Act, was approved for the November ballot, backers of several other pot-related measures, including Initiative 70, Legalize2012's proposal and the Relief for the Possession of Cannabis Act, were trying to duplicate this feat. But at the Monday deadline set by the Colorado Secretary of State's office, none of their proponents submitted any signatures -- meaning voters won't get the chance to consider their proposals. How close did they come to consideration? And what obstacles proved insurmountable?
Initiative 70, whose most prominent advocates were Rico Colibri, president of the Cannabis Alliance for Regulation & Education (CARE) and longtime marijuana activist Kathleen Chippi, definitely wasn't a clone of Amendment 64. Here's how our William Breathes described it in an April post:
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.
This week, we contacted Colibri to ask how many signatures were collected and why the proposal fell short of its goal. In response, Chippi sent a statement written in both of their names. It reads:
I-70 campaign is extremely enthusiastic with the significant amount of signatures we gathered in the limited amount of time we had available. We concur with the opinion of certain senators and MMED officials that unfortunately no language will pass this year as a result of many social and political factors. We are confident with the appropriate time and funds we will pass our language in the near future. We are actively seeking community input and assistance in perfecting our language and our fundraising efforts.
Legalize2012 was actually the first group to start the process of putting together an initiative for the upcoming election, launching a website in November 2010, around the time the marijuana legalization measure known as Proposition 19 was rejected by voters in California. A series of meetings took place over the next year plus, with a final draft completed early this year. Here's how proponent Laura Kriho described it to us in this excerpt from a January report:
"We remove all of the criminal statutes related to marijuana," she says. "It sets up an independent commission composed of cannabis experts, who'll implement the rest of the law and write commercial regulations -- and our qualification for commercial regulation is that it not be onerous and burdensome...."In the end, though, the campaign was short-circuited.
In addition, the Re-legalization Act "establishes cannabis as a fundamental right in Colorado" -- an issue that came to the fore due to a court case involving Jason Beinor, a medical marijuana patient who lost his street-sweeping job after testing positive for pot. "That's why Amendment 20 is falling down in the courts, and we clear that up."
"We never even printed petitions," Kriho says, explaining that we had "no money.
"You get all the politics you can afford," she goes on, "and we couldn't afford to do it. We had done initiatives in '92 and '94, and we also didn't have enough money to get them on the ballot -- and it's very demoralizing to lead people all the way through a campaign to have that happen. I vowed not to do that again unless we had enough money to finish it, and we didn't."
The story is similar but not identical when it comes to the Relief for the Possession of Cannabis Act, officially known as Initiative 40.
Page down to read more about Initiative 40, as well as responses from advocates about whether or not they'll support Amendment 64.