Pubdate: Thu, 12 Oct 2006
Source: Boulder Weekly (CO)
Copyright: 2006 Boulder Weekly
Page: Cover Story
Cited: Amendment 44

Amendment 44



Amendment 44 asks Colorado voters to decide whether or not to legalize
possession of less than one ounce of marijuana for adults 21 years and
older. If passed it would still be illegal to consume marijuana in
public, drive while under the influence, grow marijuana, sell it or
possess it if you are under 21.

This is an expansion of the initiative that was passed last year in
Denver. Currently, possession of less than one ounce of marijuana is a
petty offense in Colorado and carries a $100 fine.

Proponents of Amendment 44 say that marijuana is a safer alternative
drug than alcohol and that Colorado citizens should be allowed to
consume it in the privacy of their homes if they so choose. Every
year, there are thousands of injuries and deaths, in addition to
violence, that occur as a direct result of alcohol, yet alcohol is
legal. Marijuana, on the other hand, does not cause a persistent
threat to public safety and carries no risk of overdose. Marijuana
users are far less likely to engage in violence or erratic behavior
than those who imbibe alcohol. Furthermore, supporters of Amendment 44
say that many studies have shown marijuana to be less addictive than
other illegal and legal drugs.

Amendment 44 will also save taxpayers money. Currently, it costs
Colorado thousands of dollars every year to track down, apprehend and
prosecute marijuana users. This is money that could be better spent
capturing violent criminals and fighting drugs that are more harmful
to the public, like crack and meth. Supporters say that arresting
marijuana users for such a minor offense needlessly destroys thousands
of lives and eats up taxpayer revenue.

Opponents of Amendment 44 say there is no scientific evidence that
conclusively demonstrates marijuana is safer than alcohol. Since
marijuana is illegal, it is impossible to study the long-term effects
of cannabis on the human body. However, studies have shown that THC
can certainly be addictive to some people, and smoke inhalation of any
kind is detrimental to the lungs, they say. Today's marijuana is as
much as 10 times stronger than the pot used in the 1970s, and the
effects of that heightened potency vary depending on the individual.

Opponents also claim that marijuana is a "gateway" drug that
introduces young people to the drug culture and encourages them to try
other truly harmful drugs. They say prohibition works and it is the
only viable option in the drug war. There is also the concern that
legalizing pot will attract drug users to Colorado, raising crime
rates throughout the state.

Finally, those opposed to Amendment 44 argue that legalizing pot will
not save money in the long run. The costs of enforcement are minimal
when compared to the costs of addiction treatment and the drug
counseling centers that the state would be forced to pay for.

BW position: Opponents are full of bull, and a large percentage of
Boulder County readers knows it. Why? Because they smoke pot and lead
healthy, functional lives. The war on pot is a waste of money and a
waste of lives. Prohibition has never worked and never will. If
alcohol and cigarettes, which are demonstrably more costly and harmful
to human beings and to society, are legal, then ganja should be legal,

End the hypocrisy. Vote YES on Amendment 44.
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