Over 86,000 Signatures Needed to Qualify for November Ballot</p>
Denver-based activists have filed a ballot initiative with the Secretary of State that regulates marijuana in Colorado in a manner similar to alcohol. The proposal requires the Department of Revenue to tax and regulate marijuana and directs this new revenue source to the public school capital construction assistance fund. The campaign must now gather 86.105 signatures before August 6th, 2012 to qualify for the November general election ballot. The initiative's proponents are long-time Colorado marijuana policy reformers Brian Vicente and Mason Tvert of the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana like Alcohol.
"Once again Colorado is at the forefront of the national movement to reform our ineffective marijuana laws," said Art Way, Colorado Drug Policy Manager of the Drug Policy Alliance, the nation’s leading organization advocating alternatives to the war on drugs. "The responsible regulation of marijuana is a crucial first step in undoing the harms associated with the failed drug war."
Recent ballot initiatives and legislative advocacy in Colorado have decriminalized marijuana and established one of the most expansive medical marijuana regulatory systems in the country. Recent polling shows that more than half of the voters in Colorado support ending marijuana prohibition while 46% of Americans nationwide support making marijuana legal. A decade ago, only a quarter of Americans supported legalization.
A report from the Global Commission on Drug Policy released last month suggests the legalization of marijuana as an affirmative step to end failed drug policies that fuel a violent black market. Marijuana prohibition is at the center of the U.S. drug war as more than 800,000 Americans are arrested for marijuana offences each year and subsequently labeled as criminals, overwhelmingly due to low-level possession for personal use.
"Our wasteful, punitive marijuana laws sustain a massive, increasingly violent underground economy, make criminals out of millions of otherwise law-abiding citizens, waste scarce law enforcement resources, and rob tax-payers of billions in potential revenue," said Way. "Whether by the hand of lawmakers or a fed-up electorate, these laws are going to change."