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Amendment 64 has created uproar among Colorado residents, but a recent poll by Public Policy polling shows 52 percent of the state supporting the amendment.
Marijuana has been illegal in the state for almost 75 years since the Marijuana Tax Act was brought forth. The issue was left alone until the ‘70s when people began to fight for the legalization of marijuana use. A bill was signed in 1979 to allow medicinal use. However, there was no federal approval. Medicinal marijuana was not approved in Colorado until 2000, and even after people continued to push for the legalization and regulation of the drug.
Amendment 64 presents itself for the first time on the 2012 Colorado ballot. If passed, marijuana will be regulated similarly to alcohol. Adults 21 years of age and older will be able to purchase, grow and consume the substance in limited quantities. It will be illegal to drive while under the influence of marijuana and may not be given or sold to those who are under 21. Marijuana will be taxed as a wholesale product and the first $40 million in revenue will be put aside for the public school capital.
As with any potential new amendment, there are valid arguments for both sides. In Boulder, many support the amendment. A communications professor who wished to remain anonymous expressed her support for this amendment.
“I think that having a regulation on marijuana will be beneficial,” she said. “Taxing the substance and developing a revenue will decrease the harm and hopefully make the issue less complicated.”
As of right now, the profits of recreational marijuana usage lay in the hands of those who are acting illegally, with no advantages to our economy.
Along with the potential economic gain, supporters also hope that the legalization would lead to police having more time to focus on cases more urgent than catching people who smoke on their own time.
Connor Davis, a 19-year-old freshman majoring in English and film, feels that if passed, Amendment 64 will have positive results.
“I feel like there is too much of a negative connotation with the usage of marijuana,” Davis said. “It should be a person’s choice on whether they consume cannabis or not. The bad image associated with marijuana is largely due to decades of it being deemed unlawful.”
Davis added that unfair stereotypes are often made based on those who choose to smoke.
“Suggesting that every person who smokes weed is lazy is a fallacy of sweeping generalization,” Davis said. “Many intelligent, active young people make happy recreational use of the ‘illicit drug.’ A blanket prohibition against marijuana only furthers these stereotypes, as the substance is always introduced in a negative light. While some associate fines, police and paranoia with the drug, I think only of tranquility and serenity.”
Marci Fischer, a 21-year-old senior studying history, doesn’t support the amendment.
“I don’t really want to see it pass, because I’m not sure that it will be regulated properly,” Fischer said.
There are guidelines in the amendment, but they differ from those regulating alcohol. It would be legal to grow a limited amount of marijuana on your own property, which would make it difficult to control whether or not an underage person could consume the plant.
“I also fear that it would create more hazard on the roads,” Fischer said.
Like alcohol regulation, it would be illegal to drive under the influence of marijuana. However, unlike alcohol, there is not a known way to test if someone is in a position to be driving or not. Drug tests only verify if there is a substance in the system, which could have been consumed long before they were tested. Due to the lack in assurance, officers will have to solely rely on their observations.
Considering we never experienced the legality and regulation of recreational marijuana, it is hard to predict what the affects might be. Many feel strongly about the issue, but ultimately it will be the majority who will decide this evening.
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Taylor Dunn at Taylor.firstname.lastname@example.org.