Amendment 64 passed last Wednesday after receiving a majority vote in the state, but it will not change the strict policies enacted by the university that shut down last semester’s 4/20 gathering.
The bill, which will regulate marijuana like alcohol by establishing a 21-year-old age requirement for its use, production and sale, was voted on by almost two million Coloradoans. 53.3 percent of them were in favor of the legalization.
According to the amendment, its regulations will become effective “upon official declaration of the vote hereon by proclamation of the governor,” but Governor John Hickenlooper, who voiced his opposition to 64 in September, has yet to make that declaration.
“The voters have spoken, and we have to respect their will,” Hickenlooper said after the amendment passed. “This will be a complicated process, but we intend to follow through. That said, federal law still says marijuana is an illegal drug, so don’t break out the Cheetos or Goldfish too quickly.”
University spokesman Bronson Hilliard also stressed that the legality of marijuana isn’t as broad as people may think.
“Amendment 64 doesn’t make it legal to smoke weed; it makes it legal to possess certain amounts of marijuana,” Hilliard said. “The public smoking of marijuana is still expressly forbidden.”
Hilliard said that the university would continue to crack down on marijuana use, especially since the new age requirement only applies to a relatively small portion of the campus population. He also said that though planning for April 20 is in the preliminary stages, “We’re going to continue on the trajectory that we’ve been on.”
Last semester, CU spent approximately $279,000 on measures to prevent the annual 4/20 event that included enhanced security and a large police presence, spraying fish fertilizer on the Norlin lawn to deter gatherers and bringing reggae and hip-hop artist Wyclef Jean for an on-campus concert to provide alternative entertainment.
“The public spaces at CU have a primary purpose, which is research, teaching and education, not public gathering,” Hilliard said. “It’s very important that people understand that. [Norlin Quad] is not a park. It’s academic grounds on a university campus. And its primary purposes, the purposes that we protect it for, are research, teaching and education.”
Hilliard said that despite Amendment 64’s passing, he doesn’t expect student backlash when April 20 rolls around.
“There’s absolutely nothing that has anything to do with CU that has to do with drug laws,” he said. “For those people for whom 4/20 is a statement about drugs or the War on Drugs, I think that would be incentive for them to go to Denver and celebrate a victory. There’s never been a single drug law passed at Norlin Quad.”
Kevin Cheney, a 24-year-old law school student, voted in favor of 64 in part because of its potential to reform the War on Drugs. Section 1 of the amendment states, “Legitimate, taxpaying people, and not criminal actors, will conduct sales of marijuana,” which Cheney emphasized when explaining his position.
“We can take marijuana out of the hands of drug dealers and put it in the hands of responsible business owners, which will make our streets safer and increase tax revenue,” Cheney said.
He was also opposed to the administration’s handling of 4/20 last semester.
“While I don’t think that 10,000 people smoking marijuana on campus was a great image for the school, it was certainly better than turning our campus into a police state for a day,” he said.
But CU seems to have found a formula that works, one that they will continue to stick with despite legislative changes. Hilliard and Cheney did agree that it is in students’ best interests to educate themselves on the intricacies of Amendment 64 and not simply accept its broad definition of marijuana legalization for recreational use.
“Marijuana will be legal in Colorado as soon as the election is certified, but that doesn’t mean it’s the Wild West, and people can just smoke wherever they want,” Cheney said. “Like most things in life, there are rules, and people are going to have to play by them or risk getting in trouble.”
Contact CU Independent Breaking News Editor Annie Melton at Anne.firstname.lastname@example.org.