Amendment 64 camp on law-enforcement support, teachers union opposition

Thumbnail image for marijuana photo cropped.JPG
At noon, proponents of Amendment 64, the Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Act, will hold a press event at which two law-enforcement organizations will join previous backers in expressing their support for the measure; get details below. A spokeswoman stresses that the get-together isn't a response to yesterday's announcement that the Colorado Education Association will fight against the proposal -- an unexpected turn, she admits. Why?

According to Amendment 64's Betty Aldworth, the CEA, the state's largest teachers union, was consulted during the drafting of the initiative and suggested that tax revenue generated by the sales of marijuana go toward school construction -- an element that made it into the final draft. In her words, "We were glad to have their involvement during the process, and happy to be able to direct the funds to the place where they seemed to feel they were needed the most."

betty aldworth portrait.jpg
Betty Aldworth.
We've reached out to the CEA for comment and will share the organization's response in this space. In the meantime, Aldworth can only guess why the union decided to oppose the measure rather than staying neutral.

"What we have seen is powerful political professionals coming on board the 'no' campaign -- and it's a surprising flurry of activity from places we didn't expect it," she says. "We speculate that it has more to do with politics than it does with the issue itself. Looking at Amendment 64 from an evidence- and fact-based approach, it's clear this is good policy for Colorado, and we've simply been surprised by some of the individuals and organizations that have joined the 'no' campaign."

Regarding today's event, taking place outside the Denver City and County Building, it's slated to include representatives from Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) and the Colorado Criminal Defense Bar, both of which have publicly backed Amendment 64 for some time. However, these organizations are being joined by two new recruits: Blacks in Law Enforcement of America and the National Latino Officers Association. Their voices in support of the act are significant, Aldworth believes.

"When people who've dedicated their lives to law enforcement come out to support Amendment 64, it underlines the fact that marijuana prohibition is a wasteful and counterproductive policy, and Amendment 64 is a more sensible approach," she says. "We can regulate marijuana like alcohol and better protect our communities, our families, our youth and our law enforcement officers."

Was this event on the books before the CEA announcement, even though a press release about it didn't arrive until afterward? "As does any campaign, we have been working with supporters for some time," Aldworth replies. "We have been working since the beginning to build a coalition. So this is not a response to that in any way."

Don't expect it to be the last happening of its kind, either. "Our coalition has been rapidly growing and continues to do so," she says. "So we will certainly have more events like this one prior to the election."

Here's the Amendment 64 release about today's event:

Cops, Prosecutors, and Judge to Endorse Initiative to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol

National Black and Latino police organizations announce support for Amendment 64

Former law enforcement officials will join campaign to announce the endorsements at a news conference Thursday, Sep. 20, at 12 p.m. in front of the Denver City-County Building (1437 Bannock St.)

DENVER -- A group of former police officers, prosecutors, and a judge will join the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol at a news conference on Thursday, Sep. 20, at 12 p.m. to release a letter of endorsement signed by law enforcers from across the state. They will also announce endorsements from two national police organizations: Blacks in Law Enforcement of America and the National Latino Officers Association.

WHAT: News conference announcing law enforcement support for Amendment 64, the initiative to regulate marijuana like alcohol

WHEN: Thursday, September 20, 12 p.m. MT

WHERE: In front of the Denver City-County Building, 1437 Bannock St., Denver

WHO: Lt. Tony Ryan (Ret.), 36-year veteran of the Denver Police Dept.
Lauren Davis, former deputy district attorney in Denver and Manhattan
Neill Franklin, executive director of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP)
Betty Aldworth, advocacy director of the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol
Several other former cops, prosecutors, and judges who support Amendment 64

In the sign-on letter being released at the news conference, law enforcers outline the following reasons for supporting Amendment 64:

• Redirect limited law enforcement resources toward preventing violent crimes.

• Cut off funding to violent gangs and drug cartels, which generate the majority of their revenue from illegal marijuana sales.

• Protect the lives of police officers who must enforce ineffective marijuana prohibition laws.

• Reduce access to marijuana by teens by taking marijuana out of the underground market, putting it behind the counter, and enforcing strict age-limits.

• Restore mutual respect and good relations between law enforcement and communities bearing the brunt of the current marijuana laws.

More from our Marijuana archive: "Marijuana: Colorado Education Association opposing Amendment 64."

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11 comments
kevin_hunt
kevin_hunt topcommenter

Melvin Sembler donated over $100,000 to "Smart Colorado" in an effort to keep marijuana illegal in Colorado.

 

"But the real icon of drug policy in Romney’s campaign, deeply involved to this day, is Melvin Sembler, a Florida strip-mall magnate who was a national fundraising chair for Romney in 2008 and is again a Florida State Co-Chair for Romney’s finance committee. Mel Sembler’s name is most likely to strike fear into the hearts of anyone involved in teen drug rehabs. Sembler and his wife, Betty, founded a chain of such institutions under the name Straight, Inc., which at its peak in the ‘80s had 12 clinics in nine states and a track record of extreme abuse.

 

In one of many stories from Straight that have been exposed, a teenage girl testified to being compelled into the program after being caught with an airline bottle of liquor given to her by a friend, and then beaten, raped, locked in a janitor’s closet in pants soiled by urine, feces, and menstrual blood.."

 

Newton, who held a PhD in public administration from an unaccredited institution, was chosen by the Semblers to be their national clinical director. He has had to pay out over $12 million in damages to his victims, who he has thrown against walls, held against their will, kidnapped, restrained in leg irons, forced into servitude, and otherwise abused."

 

Source: http://www.thefix.com/content/romney-sembler-drug-advisor-teen-rehab-abuse8515

Monkey
Monkey

Is there anything A64 can't do? Apparently it single handedly will protect police, prevent violent crimes, dismantle violent gangs and drug cartels, stop kids from getting high and create mutual respect between recreational stoners and the police. Just imagine if A64 really legalized weed, it would probably fix our economy, end mass murders and stop global warming.

IcePick
IcePick

 @Monkey Yea, it can't prevent knuckleheads from buying guns or bullets.

Jake
Jake

 @Monkey

 Baby steps.  You really think the opposition will support full out legalization if they can't get their heads around this?  You're in a fantasy world. 

Monkey
Monkey

 @Jake12 years to remove the need to see a doctor. If you consider that a baby step, I feel sorry for your children. If we re-legalized alcohol at the pace you find reasonable, we would only be able to posses 6-7oz of liquor by now. Existing MMJ laws allow me much more than 7oz of weed already, no need to wait 80 years following baby steppers in a circle. I believe expanding our MMJ laws would get more votes, we should have baby stepped that a bit more before trying the "recreational" thing a second time. 12 plants and 4oz or a 2 year doctors note for MMJ would have been better than A64, and would have less opposition too.

Monkey
Monkey

 @Jake I know you think your opinion is important, but voting for A64 will have little effect nationally, unless you mean more federal enforcement in Colorado, then I agree with you. Casting a vote is submitting your personal opinion. You don't know what is good for the people, you only have an opinion. Prohibition didn't start one ounce at a time, and I don't believe it can end an ounce at a time. Everyone, not just me, effected by A64 would be better off with our 12 year old MMJ laws, even 18-20 year olds. 

Monkey
Monkey

 @RobertChase  I understand what you are saying but I believe both sides are using too much deception and misdirection, using ridiculous claims to persuade voters. I don't trust pro or anti A64 activists, they are all liars.

Jake
Jake

 @Monkey

 Very dramatic statement with a poor apples to oranges comparison.  I couldn't tell you the reasons behind the length of time only that here we are and to not pass this law would be a set back and a mistake.  This has national implications and reading your arguments clearly you're only thinking of yourself and how this personally affects YOU.  Laws are passed for the good of the people not the good of the ONE.

RobertChase
RobertChase topcommenter

 @Monkey  @Jake As an exercise, try to imagine that you were trying to organize a campaign to legalize cannabis in Colorado.  How would you deal with the opposition of the Legislative Council, the Governor, and the Colorado Education Association?  While you fantasists on the fringe keep aiming your ridiculously inaccurate rhetoric against Amendment 64, reality in the form of the entrenched army of prohibitionist parasites in government, the bureaucracy, and the Establishment in general pull out all the stops to defeat even the limited legalization represented by the Amendment.  The bottom line is that Prohibition represents societal inertia, and when supposed advocates claim that forward motion (i.e. Amendment 64's Section 3 legalizing the personal use of cannabis by adults) is worse than stasis, the movement to end Prohibition is in total disarray.  If we win the victory over Prohibition represented by Amendment 64, it will be despite the attempted misdirection of several who formerly led efforts for reform.  If we lose, we should reflect that much smaller minorities than cannabis-users have successfully organized for their civil rights; we will have to begin by shunning supposed advocates of reform who urge the same course on us as the AG, the Governor, the Colorado Drug Investigators Association, Ken Buck, and all the other odious enemies of freedom grasping the reins of pwer in Colorado.

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