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Colorado Ballot Issue to Legalize Pot Remains Controversial

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Yes on 64Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper said in a statement: “Colorado is known for many things — marijuana should not be one of them,” as Valerie Richardson reports in The Washington Times. The governor is opposed to Amendment 64, which would lift the prohibition against recreational marijuana use and possession for adults 21 and older. Coloradans will vote on the measure in less than a week.

Hickenlooper said:

‘Amendment 64 has the potential to increase the number of children using drugs and would detract from efforts to make Colorado the healthiest state in the nation. It sends the wrong message to kids that drugs are OK.’

Richardson writes that Hickenlooper, a Democrat, is on the same side of the issue as former governor Bill Owens, a Republican, but at odds with the Colorado Democratic Party, which supports Amendment 64. “Also backing Amendment 64 are two prominent Colorado Republicans, former Rep. Tom Tancredo and state Sen. Shawn Mitchell, in an election that gives new meaning to the phrase ‘strange bedfellows,’” Richardson adds.

Tom Angell, founder and chairman of Marijuana Majority, posted a slideshow on Huff Post Politics, titled “10 Most Unexpected Marijuana Reform Supporters.” The strange bedfellows in his list include Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel (a Democrat who feels police and court time should be freed up to focus on violent crime), singer Tony Bennett (who favors the legalization of all drugs, to be dispensed by physicians), Christian televangelist Pat Robertson, and Fox News commentator Bill O’Reilly.

Angell writes that the Gallup Poll found that in 2011, for the first time, a majority of Americans supported the legalization of pot, with 50% in favor and 46% opposed; and that the Rasmussen poll reports that 56% of Americans support legalization. Angell believes there is “a good chance” that voters in at least one of the three states with marijuana legalization ballot issues will make history by approving the first-ever legalization law. In addition to Colorado, those states include Oregon and Washington.

Richardson writes that polls indicate that Colorado voters are deadlocked on the issue, although a Public Policy Polling Survey released on Monday showed the meaure ahead, 53 to 43 percentage points, with the rest undecided. Of the three states with ballot measures, Washington’s initiative seems to have the strongest support, Richardson writes, whereas Oregon’s measure has the toughest odds of approval, with polls showing 49% of voters oppose it and 42 favor it.

Regarding Colorado’s ballot measure, Richardson writes:

The campaign has also stressed the economic benefits of marijuana legalization, saying the tax revenue after 2017 could top $100 million and support public services such as education.

In one television ad, a graphic shows dollars moving from Colorado to Mexico and says, ‘We all know where the money from nonmedical marijuana sales is currently going. It doesn’t need to be that way. […] Let’s have marijuana tax money go to our schools and not criminals.’

The measure’s opponents predict that its passage could transform Colorado into a North American drug hub, noting that the state’s booming medical-marijuana dispensary business has already attracted illegal trafficking.


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