HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html Pro-Pot Proposal Takes a Big Hit
Pubdate: Wed, 08 Nov 2006
Source: Rocky Mountain News (Denver, CO)
Copyright: 2006, Denver Publishing Co.
Author: David Montero, Rocky Mountain News
Bookmark: (Marijuana)
Bookmark: (Decrim/Legalization)


Overwhelmingly, Voters Just Saying No to Legalization

By about a 2-1 ratio, voters snuffed out a measure that would have 
allowed adults 21 and over to possess up to an ounce of marijuana.

With 701 precincts reporting, it appeared to be doomed to defeat, 
especially since it was barely getting a split vote in traditionally 
liberal Boulder County.

That was the news Robert McGuire, spokesman for the Colorado Chapter 
of Save Our Society from Drugs, had been waiting to hear.

"We're pretty happy with the way things turned out," he said. "Our 
goal was to beat it badly enough so we don't see it again on the ballot.

Mason Tvert, campaign manager for Amendment 44, said he "wasn't 
disappointed by the results" and conceded defeat early in the evening.

"We had a yearlong conversation about marijuana," he said. "We still 
believe there are a larger number of people in favor of changing the laws."

"We think the writing is on the wall," he added.

If the initiative passed, it would have made Colorado the first state 
to legalize marijuana use for recreational purposes. Previously, 
several states - including Colorado - passed medical marijuana 
initiatives that allowed for the distribution of the drug for those 
battling illness.

Colorado was one of two states considering a recreational use 
provision on pot this election. The other state was Nevada.

Even if it had passed, Amendment 44 wouldn't have technically made 
pot smoking legal in Colorado. It is still a violation of federal 
drug laws - though federal drug enforcement officials said publicly 
they will not actively seek to arrest, try and convict users in 
possession of an ounce or less.

Some supporters of the amendment thought the success of Denver's 
passage of an initiative seeking to legalize pot possession last year 
signaled the mood of citizens of the state. Tvert led that successful campaign.

The campaign had been opposed largely by Save Our Society from Drugs 
- - a Florida-based group that made several sojourns to the state to 
drum up opposition against the measure.

Through McGuire, they successfully brought the director of the White 
House Office of National Drug Control Policy to campaign against it 
as well as employing the help of Colorado Attorney General John Suthers.

Suthers said he was pleased to see the amendment go down to defeat 
and said voters never bought the argument made by Tvert that 
marijuana was safer than alcohol.

"Usually when this issue comes up, the debate centers on Libertarian 
values," he said. "This was a different approach and one that didn't work."

The opponents of the amendment also believed, along with federal drug 
enforcement officials, that passage would bring more drug traffickers 
to Colorado because it would be seen as "a drug tourist spot."

But Tvert argued that the current fines - a misdemeanor offense and a 
$100 ticket - show that the government doesn't really consider 
possession of an ounce of marijuana a serious problem anyway.

"If they did, they wouldn't have such light penalties," he said.

Voters from both parties were unimpressed with the campaign's 
strategy to declare the war on drugs as failed.

Jared Klarquist, 24, and a registered Democrat, couldn't bring 
himself to cast a ballot for it.

"I think pot is bad, it's a real de-motivator," he said. "As poorly 
as the war on drugs is going, I don't feel legalizing it is the way 
to make things better."



Would have legalized the adult possession of an ounce or less or marijuana

Winners: John Suthers. He became the face of the anti-44 movement and 
used his clout to push against legalization. The campaign group, 
Florida-based Save Our Society from Drugs, received $37,000 in 
contributions - the largest from Denver resident Kevin Kaufman who 
gave $20,000.

Losers: Mason Tvert, campaign manager for Amendment 44. He was able 
to spearhead legalization in Denver last year but couldn't muster 
enough support statewide. The campaign was mostly funded by the SAFER 
Voter Education Fund, which poured more than $148,000 into the losing effort.

What's next? It's possible Tvert could try again, but for now, pot is 
still illegal.
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MAP posted-by: Richard Lake