By Gene Davis, DENVER DAILY NEWS
The eyes of Colorado’s growing medical marijuana community are set on California’s upcoming ballot initiative that would legalize marijuana for adults.
At least two different Colorado pro-marijuana groups — Safer Alternative for Enjoyable Recreation (SAFER) and the Cannabis Therapy Institute (CTI) — have announced plans to place a marijuana-legalization initiative similar to California’s Proposition 19 on the 2012 ballot. The two groups yesterday staged events to bring attention to Proposition 19 and their own initiatives.
“With the election coming up in California, everybody is going to be asking what’s going on in Colorado,” said Laura Kriho of CTI, which yesterday announced a fundraising drive on Nov. 2 for their initiative. “I think if California legalizes it, I think there’s going to be a lot of places in the country that are going to want to legalize.”
Meanwhile, SAFER offshoot Women’s Marijuana Movement (WMM) yesterday held a rally to show their support for Proposition 19 and to bring a different face to the marijuana legalization movement.
“We thought it would be a great idea to show support and that all different kinds of people believe in legalizing marijuana,” said Toni Fox of WMM.
SAFER and CTI are currently going forward with separate marijuana-legalization initiatives, though both groups said they look forward to working together. Although the groups share similar goals, they disagree on one main issue Ń how much marijuana should be able to be taxed.
Kriho believes any legalization initiative should only allow the sales tax to be charged on marijuana. Meanwhile, Tvert’s initiative would likely cap any possible excise tax on an ounce of marijuana at $50. Tvert believes banning an excise tax on marijuana would be “a nail in the coffin” for the measure.
A majority of California voters has swung in favor of Proposition 19, according to a recent Field Poll. While a July survey found Proposition 19 trailing by 4 points, 49 percent of Californians now say they are inclined to vote “Yes” on the proposed marijuana legalization law, with 42 percent leaning toward voting “No,” according to Reuters. The margin of error on that poll is plus or minus 4.1 percentage points.
And while Kriho and Tvert expressed interest in the outcome of Proposition 19, the activists said they are moving forward with their initiatives regardless of what happens in California.
“Even though California has been around for so long with medical marijuana, Colorado is the first state in the country that has established a state regulated system,” said Tvert. “Whereas California started the race earlier, Colorado appears to be on the way towards finishing the race quicker.”
A Rasmussen poll released in May found that 49 percent of Colorado voters support legalizing marijuana. The pro-legalization poll numbers are significantly higher than when Colorado voters rejected a ballot initiative to legalize marijuana on a 61-38 percent vote in 2006.
“Without a doubt we believe Coloradans are ready to take the next step towards making marijuana legal for all adults,” said Tvert. “Enough people around the state recognize that this is a far safer substance than alcohol and it’s time we start treating it that way.”
Tvert doubts there will be enough funding to get more than one marijuana-legalization initiative on the 2012 ballot.