Backers of legal marijuana submit petitions for ballot
Proponents of legalizing marijuana submitted petitions to state officials Wednesday to get a measure onto this year’s ballot.
A group calling itself The Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol submitted petitions with nearly 160,000 signatures to get the issue before voters in November.
The group needs 86,105 of those signatures to be valid to qualify for the ballot.
“We will win this campaign because the voters understand that marijuana prohibition is a policy long overdue for repeal,” said Brian Vincente, a longtime advocate to legalize the weed and co-author of the ballot question. “Polls consistently show more Coloradans support making marijuana legal than oppose it, and we are confident they will pass this measure and make history this November.”
The so-called Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Act of 2012 would make it legal for anyone 21 and older to possess 1 ounce or less of marijuana, six plants and whatever paraphernalia is needed to consume or grow marijuana.
Under the measure, state and local governments would regulate it nearly the same way they control the sale and distribution of alcohol, including issuing licenses for liquor store-like retail outlets. As a result, local governments would have control over where they are located and how many can exist within their jurisdictions.
The measure also would allow local governments through their elected boards or by a local vote to ban such retail outlets, but they could not prohibit individual residents from possessing marijuana in their homes.
It also calls on the Colorado Legislature to enact an excise tax similar to those imposed on alcohol and tobacco, and it would allow local governments to collect sales taxes on marijuana purchases. The first $40 million from the state excise tax would be dedicated to construction of public schools.
The measure also would allow farmers to grow and sell hemp, as long as its tetrahydrocannabinol concentration does not exceed three-tenths of a percent. Hemp at such THC levels is primarily used to manufacture clothing or paper products.
The Secretary of State’s Office has 30 days to determine whether the petition contains a sufficient number of signatures from registered voters.