Marijuana: Amendment 64 camp prefers deal to suing over Blue Book language
Yesterday, backers of Amendment 64, the Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Act, went to court over changes in Blue Book language they say were made against the will of legislators. Another hearing has been set for tomorrow, but advocates say the appearance can be avoided with a little cooperation from legislative staffers -- which doesn't seem to be forthcoming.
As we've reported, the state's legislative council held a hearing last week that excised the following three sentences from the pro-Amendment 64 section of the Blue Book, a ballot guide provided to state voters:
The use of marijuana by adults may be less harmful than the use of alcohol or tobacco, both of which are already legal for adults to use and are regulated by the state. Furthermore, marijuana may be beneficial for individuals with certain debilitating conditions. The consequences of burdening adults with a criminal record for possession of small amounts of marijuana are too severe, and there are better uses for state resources than prosecuting such low-level crimes.According to proponents, many of the legislators on the council thought they were approving the removal of two words from previous sentences, not the elimination of this text block -- an edit that creates an imbalance between the arguments for the measure (206 words) versus those against it (366 words).
Given reports that the Blue Book was headed to the printer yesterday, the Amendment 64 campaign filed a lawsuit asking for a temporary restraining order to delay printing and a preliminary injunction that would result in either re-inserting the nixed sentences or holding a new legislative council hearing to address the situation.
In the end, Denver District Court Senior Judge Leonard Plank put off printing of the Blue Book until no sooner than Wednesday evening, after another hearing at which both sides will be able to address the suit. That's good news, says Rob Corry, the attorney representing the Amendment 64 campaign.
"Our goal was to stop the printing process of the Blue Book so we could sort out these issues," he says, "and that's what we accomplished yesterday. We got a 48-hour reprieve."
Getting Plank to grant a preliminary injunction is a bigger hill to climb, Corry concedes. "It's extraordinary relief," he notes. "We've gotten it before against the government, but it's always difficult to take the government on, since they have some legal principles at their disposal they think they can use" -- namely the assertion that the judicial branch can't intervene in a legislative matter because of the constitutional separation of powers. "But we think we're right, because we're trying to uphold the actual intent of the legislators who were on the legislative council."
How so? The motion that allowed the sentences to be axed needed approval by two-thirds of the members, "and two-thirds of them did not want to excise the meat of our first argument in favor of the initiative," Corry maintains. "Somewhere along the line, someone was either misled or severely mistaken, and we think the courts can correct that."
Continue reading for the No on 64 response to the lawsuit and more.