Marijuana: Amendment 64 backers lose Blue Book fight, rip government deception
Update: The backers of Amendment 64, the Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Act, have lost their court fight to restore arguments in favor of the initiative that were stripped from the Blue Book voters guide during a hearing last week. Proponent Brian Vicente admits to frustration over this ruling and rips the process that he thinks led to the problem in the first place.
To recap: At a legislative council hearing to finalize the Blue Book language, a number of legislators thought they were voting to take out a couple of words from separate sentences only to discover that a big chunk of the argument in favor of Amendment 64's approval had wound up on the cutting-room floor. Moreover, efforts to restore the excised section were unsuccessful for technical reasons.
Amendment 64 supporters responded by filing a lawsuit in an effort to prevent printing of the Blue Book before a judge could decide if the snipped passages should be restored. Today, however, attorneys representing the State of Colorado argued that the judge didn't have the power to intervene due to the separation of powers -- i.e., the judiciary can't block the actions of the legislature. This theory won the day in a 2006 suit over the Blue Book description of a marijuana measure proposed that year (get details below), and it did so again this afternoon.
"We feel this is a loss for the voters of Colorado," he says. "Unfortunately, the voters are now going to receive incomplete information in the Blue Book. They're not going to be able to see a full discussion of both sides of this issue.
"Unfortunately, we've seen decades of propaganda and government actions trying to prevent people from educating themselves about marijuana prohibition. But this is a new low in the government's attempt to hold up this failed policy."
Is Vicente directly accusing Amendment 64 opponents on the legislative council of engaging in dirty tricks and sleazy strategies to undermine the initiative's odds of winning at the November ballot box? Not quite, but he comes close.
"I guess I'd say this is just the latest example of how the government skews information about marijuana and confuses the public in order to keep the wasteful policy of marijuana prohibition alive," he responds. "We believe the legislative council is simply deceiving the public by not allowing them to have a fair and impartial Blue Book that presents both sides of the argument."
What kind of impact might the Blue Book decision have on the outcome of the election?
"We feel the public doesn't like being deceived," he says. "Many voters may end up voting for Amendment 64 as a protest vote against this dishonest government action. We believe it's going to be a close vote, and unlike the other side, we believe voters should have information on both sides of this issue. So we think this could lead to a backlash, because voters are tired of the lies and hypocrisy that have been going on since the 1930s."
Meanwhile, Laura Chapin, spokeswoman for Smart Colorado, the No on 64 organization, praises the ruling.
"Amendment 64 isn't even in front of the voters yet, and it's already sparking lawsuits," she points out. "This is exactly why people should vote no on 64. What the court said was, there is a process in place when it comes to the Blue Book. The proponents failed to follow it. And the fact that they didn't like the outcome doesn't mean they get to spend taxpayer time and money trying to overturn it."
What about the argument that voters are the losers in this process, because they won't receive all the information they need to properly weigh the merits of the measure?
"They should have addressed that during the Blue Book process," she replies. "They knew what it was, they knew when it was happening, they knew what would happen. That was the venue for addressing it, and that's what the judge said today. The fact that they didn't do their due diligence during the Blue Book process doesn't entitle them to spend taxpayer time and money trying to overturn it."
Continue to read about a similar Blue Book fight over a 2006 marijuana measure, which ended with the same result.