Releaf Magazine
15Jun/160

Say Good-Bye To Cannabis Gummies. They’ve Been Banned

Say goodbye to the bear

Dee Giznik herb.co
gum

It’s important to ensure the safety of children; Keeping medications, cleaning products and other dangerous materials put away and out of reach of curious fingers. When it comes to THC-infused edibles, the strategy should be no different.

However, some people believe gummies shaped like bears, worms, people and fruit slices are just too appealing and tempting to children and need to be banned promptly.

On Friday, Colorado Governor, John Hickenlooper, signed a bill banning the sale and disruption of THC-infused gummies shaped like animals, fruit slices or people. The hope is, with the new bill in order, children will have less access to THC treat that looks all too familiar to them.

The infused version is nearly indistinguishable from standard gummy bears, making it easier and more likely for children to mistake the THC treat for their regular confection.

Colorado edibles must come with a stamp or sticker stating the product contains THC, but apparently that’s not enough for some. Supporters of the ban believe the gummies are simply “too attractive” for youngsters, making it nearly impossible for them not to eat if they should stumble upon them.

Um, what? When was the last time someone’s child ate an entire bottle of gummy antacids? They’re fruit shaped and can cause serious problems if too many are ingested, but responsible parents keep things like that stashed away, just like THC edibles should be.
Banned mid-year

With the gummy bear ban taking effect July 1, the cannabis market will undoubtedly bounce back, but with less fun shaped THC gummies. Squares and disc-shaped edibles are likely to be seen popping up on shelves of local dispensaries, as many manufacturers have already begun phasing out the illegal shapes.

If customers, for whatever reason, have an issue with the new shape, time is running out to stockpile the cute gummies. In less than three weeks, gummies shaped like worms, bears, people, fruit slices and any other whimsical shape will be removed and destroyed; not resold or given away as part of a compassionate care program.

Parents should be held accountable if edibles fall into the wrong hands. Just like Tylenol, Xanax or Adderall, medications are not meant to be in places where children have open access to them. If Colorado is experiencing an issue with kids accidentally ingesting THC gummies, the parents should be at fault.

Flintstone vitamins are people shaped, but we don’t ever hear about children consuming mass amounts of those. Why? Because parents know enough to keep them put up and away. Unfortunately, lesser intelligent people can’t seem to do the same with their cannabis edibles, meaning all of Colorado must suffer from poor parenting.

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13Jun/160

Driving Under the Influence of Marijuana

While marijuana laws have become lax in recent years, a "Marijuana DUI" can still get you in a lot of trouble.

criminaldefenselawyer.com by Monica Steiner, Contributing Author

ftp2

The often tragic consequences and harsh legal penalties for driving under the influence of alcohol are well publicized. What many people don’t realize is that it is also illegal and punishable in all 50 states to drive under the influence of marijuana (or a combination of alcohol, marijuana, or other drugs).

Laws defining what it means to be “under the influence” of marijuana vary by state, as do applicable punishments.

Any amount = under the influence. In some states, any amount of marijuana in the driver’s system will conclusively establish that the driver was under the influence.
Above the threshold = under the influence. In other states a driver who is above a certain blood or urine concentration level will be considered under the influence.
The defendant’s behavior or actions= under the influence. A minority of states require the prosecutor to prove that the driver was under the influence, by pointing to his behavior or driving, regardless of the amount of marijuana in the driver’s system.

States also differ in their definitions of "driving." For example, in many states, a DUI charge can result from merely sitting in a stationary car while under the influence. Whether this definition of “driving” applies to you depends on the law of the state where you live, and is discussed further below.
What it Means to be "Under the Influence"

In most states, being “under the influence” means that the driver is incapable of driving safely due to the effects of drug or alcohol use.

As you are probably aware, when it comes to alcohol, a blood alcohol level of 0.08 percent of the driver's blood, by volume, will conclusively establish that the driver is under the influence (if the level is less, the prosecutor can still point to the driver's actions to prove that he was under the influence). In some states, the blood alcohol level threshold is even lower if the driver is a minor.

When marijuana is involved, however, states have different approaches to establishing that the driver was under the influence, as shown below.
Per se laws

In states with so-called “per se” DUI laws, any amount of marijuana in the driver’s system at the time of the offense will conclusively establish impairment. In these states, a prosecutor will not need to present any further evidence (such as behavior consistent with being under the influence or unsafe driving) in order to establish that the driver was under the influence.

State per se laws often include marijuana metabolites—compounds left over when the body metabolizes (or processes) marijuana—which can remain in a person’s body for days, weeks, or longer after marijuana use. While metabolites indicate that the person ingested marijuana at some point in the past, they do not indicate how long ago, or necessarily point to current impairment. Even so, state per se laws that include metabolites accept their presence as conclusive evidence of impairment for the purposes of a DUI charge.
Blood or urine marijuana concentration levels

As they do with blood alcohol thresholds, some states consider a level of marijuana (or marijuana metabolites) in the driver’s blood or urine—usually in nanograms/ liter—as conclusive proof of impairment. As with per se laws, the prosecutor will not need to prove that the driver’s senses were impaired—no need for field sobriety test results, or testimony about the driver’s speech, balance, or poor driving.

In these states, having a concentration level that’s lower than the threshold does not necessarily mean that the driver was not under the influence, however. The prosecutor may still point to the driver’s actions and behavior (such as his driving) to show that the driver was under the influence.
The driver’s behavior or driving

In the minority of states, the prosecutor must always establish that the driver was behaving in a way that showed that he was under the influence of marijuana at the time of the arrest—regardless of (even relatively high) marijuana blood or urine concentration levels. Prosecutors can do this by showing that the driver had impaired balance or speech, or that he was driving erratically—even that he smelled of marijuana.

People are sometimes surprised to learn that the prosecution need not show actual unsafe driving to prove that the driver was under the influence. Merely being under the influence and driving will suffice. For example, suppose you are involved in an accident that you did not cause—your driving was just fine. But the police officer who comes to the accident scene smells marijuana in your car, observes your reddened eyes and tell-tale behavior, and sees half-smoked joints in the ash tray. This may be enough evidence to charge you with driving while under the influence, even though your driving was not unsafe.
Driving as a Medical Marijuana Patient

Eighteen states have made it legal to use marijuana for medicinal purposes, as long as the patient follows the law with respect to amounts, registration, and so on. But no state has gone so far as to say it’s okay to drive after using medical marijuana, even when the patient has scrupulously followed the rules. This can be especially problematic for medical marijuana patients in states that employ per se laws, because as explained, metabolites may remain in the body for some time after use, arguably with no effect on the person's driving.

Medical marijuana patients should know how their state approaches the issue of being “under the influence,” as explained above. For more information on this topic, see Medical Marijuana and Driving.
What Constitutes "Driving"?

Most state DUI statutes consider someone to be a driver within the meaning of the DUI law when he is “in actual physical control” of the vehicle at the time of arrest. This definition is broader than our common idea of “driving” or “operating” a vehicle. The policy goal behind this broad-reaching definition is to keep people from doing a wide range of vehicle-related activities while under the influence, thus increasing safety for other motorists, pedestrians, and property along roadways.

Because of this expansive definition, most state statutes do not limit DUI charges to people who are operating moving vehicles. Being “in actual physical control” of the vehicle can include being in control of a parked car, if the judge believes that the defendant intended to begin driving, or even that the defendant had already driven the vehicle before being found by the arresting officer.

If a DUI can include more than simply driving, what constitutes “actual physical control” of a vehicle? Judges tend to consider a combination of factors, including whether:

the vehicle was on or off
the vehicle was moving or stationary
the vehicle was operable
the keys were in or out of the ignition (and whether the defendant even had access to the keys)
the driver was awake or asleep (was the defendant perhaps “sleeping it off” in a parked vehicle?)
there was any gas in the tank
the vehicle’s gears were engaged, and
the defendant was in the driver’s seat.

Whether you were in “actual physical control” comes down to the judge’s consideration of the specific facts surrounding your case.
Marijuana DUI Penalties

The most common punishments for DUI offenses are a fine, jail (or prison) time, or both. Many states will also impose some length of license suspension or require the use of an ignition interlock device, so that the defendant’s vehicle will not start without a clean breathalyzer sample. Specific penalties for DUI convictions vary by state, though all states impose some combination of the following to punish DUI convictions:

fines
jail (or prison) time
community service
probation
victim impact program participation
home confinement (also known as house arrest)
ignition interlock device use
license suspension
vehicle impoundment or forfeiture, and
drug and alcohol abuse programs.

Within each state, the severity of the applicable penalties in each case usually depends on whether the offense was a first or subsequent violation, and aggravating factors may increase applicable penalties (see below).
Aggravating factors

The following circumstances will increase the penalties that would normally apply to a DUI conviction. These include (but are not limited to):

second and subsequent offenses
a minor in the vehicle at time of offense (sometimes referred to as “child endangerment”)
a minor as the defendant
DUI while driving on a suspended license
DUI while driving a school bus
causing a traffic accident, property damage, bodily injury, or death, and
driving with particularly elevated alcohol or drug content levels

Sentence ranges and mandatory minimum sentences

Although many state statutes list maximum fines, jail time, and license suspension periods, unless the law requires minimum fines, jail time, and suspension, the judge usually has discretion to sentence for periods up to the various maximums. This means that a defendant can theoretically end up with no, or very low, jail time and penalties.

Defendants who have prior DUI convictions probably can’t count on a mild sentence due to the absence of a mandatory minimum sentence in the statute, however. In all states, penalties increase for second and subsequent offenses, and in most states, that means mandatory minimum penalties for these subsequent violations. However, often there’s a “wash out” provision—a rule that effectively makes a prior DUI of a certain age go away for purposes of enhancing subsequent sentences. For example, a mandatory minimum may apply to a current conviction only if the prior conviction was incurred less than five, seven, or ten years ago. When a prior has washed out, the subsequent offense is treated as a first offense for punishment purposes.

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17Jul/130

Releaf Magazine Issue #31 Now Available!!!!

aug1

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4Jul/130

Rules For Legal Recreational Marijuana Sales Announced In Colorado

By Matt Ferner

A man holds a sign referring to Colorado legalizing marijuana with the state capitol dome in the background at the 4/20 marijuana holiday in Civic Center Park in downtown Denver April 20, 2013. (Photo: REUTERS/Rick Wilking)
 

The Colorado Department of Revenue released a 60-plus page report Monday detailing the rules of how recreational marijuana should be licensed, regulated and sold in Colorado.

The recreational marijuana industry in Colorado will be regulated by the state revenue department.

The state department report sets very specific rules for recreational marijuana in Colorado from licensing to how a retail marijuana store should operate to how retail grow operations should function to marijuana testing to marketing and to labeling of marijuana products.

Safe product testing and proper labeling were two of the key areas the Department of Revenue needed to provide rules on by today's deadline and the report provides ample detail.

Labels must conform to the specific language requirements of the state including information on potency, amount of THC in the marijuana product, a clear set of instructions on how to properly use the product, a complete list of nonorganic pesticides, fungicides and herbicides used during cultivation and much more depending on the type of product which can range from marijuana buds for smoking, a marijuana-laced food or a THC-concentrate like a marijuana "wax."

All retail marijuana products must also contain these warning statements:

  • “There may be health risks associated with the consumption of this product.”
  • “This product is intended for use by adults 21 years and older. Keep out of the reach of children.”
  • “This product is unlawful outside the State of Colorado.”
  • “This product is infused with Retail Marijuana.”
  • “This product was produced without regulatory oversight for health, safety, or efficacy.”
  • “The intoxicating effects of this product may be delayed by two or more hours.

Recreational marijuana buyers must produce a government-issued photo ID to prove that they are 21-years-old or older.

Colorado adults, 21 and over, will be limited to purchasing up to an ounce of marijuana for recreational use from specialty licensed retail shops that can also sell pot-related items such as pipes and accessories. Coloradans can also grow up to six plants -- with only three flowering at a given time -- in their home for personal use. Adults can possess up to an ounce of marijuana legally.

Adult tourists in Colorado are limited to purchasing only a quarter of an ounce.

The state department also intends on setting up a seed-to-sale tracking system which will make all marijuana producers and sellers responsible for each plant produced and sold.

All-in-all the rules are extremely dry and sober and described best by The Associated Press:

The regulations are largely dry details that make pot seem more like a loaf of bread or an over-the-counter sinus remedy than a party drug.

A description which echoes sentiments about marijuana spoken by Mason Tvert, the communications director for Marijuana Policy Project and co-director of the Yes on Amendment 64 campaign in Colorado, on the "All In with Chris Hayes" show in May.

"Tobacco kills about about 400,000 Americans per year, alcohol about 40,000 Americans and marijuana has never killed a single human being in history," Tvert said. "That's not to say it shouldn't be regulated and controlled, it's just to say that while this is new and some people might have knee-jerk reactions, we need to treat the product like it is, which is a relatively benign substance that millions of adults use responsibly."

Recreational pot sales don't begin in Colorado until January 1, 2014.

Back in May, Gov. John Hickenlooper signed several historic measures to implement marijuana legalization in the state, establishing Colorado as the world's first legal, regulated and taxed marijuana market for adults.

Washington State, the only other state to legalize marijuana for recreational use last November, is also preparing for legal retail marijuana sales next year and is currently working out the final draft of its own rules for regulation.

-

Via www.huffingtonpost.com

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10May/130

Colorado green lights

Colorado Lawmakers Set Taxes And Rules For Marijuana Sales

npr.org

Colorado is set to become the first U.S. state to regulate and tax sales of recreational marijuana, after lawmakers approved several bills that set business standards and rules. Legislators expect enforcement of the rules to be paid for by two taxes on marijuana — a 15 percent excise tax, and a 10 percent sales tax.

Other measures included in the package set limits on how much marijuana visitors to Colorado can buy (a quarter of an ounce), as well as a limit on how many cannabis plants a private citizen can grow (six).

Gov. John Hickenlooper has indicated he will sign the legislation, according to Colorado voters first approved the legalization of pot for recreational use by people over age 21 in a ballot initiative last November.

Voters adopted a similar measure in Washington state, where plans for regulation and taxation are still being formed.

"The first legal marijuana should be on sale in Washington in March 2014," reports the , "and Colorado will have its cannabis stores open as soon as Jan. 1."

Like all new Colorado taxes, voters must approve the new taxation system in a ballot initiative this autumn.

Other states are already taxing pot, but those levies cover medical marijuana. California reportedly raises more than $100 million a year on such sales.

The Colorado legislation adopted Wednesday also includes a requirement that "pot must be sold in child-resistant packages with labels that specify potency," . "Edible marijuana products will have serving-size limits."

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6May/130

Keep it simple.

Haggling Continues Over Marijuana Testing, Magazines

May 4, 2013 4:00 PM

DENVER (CBS4) – Time running is out for the new marijuana rules. Colorado senators scrambled Friday to advance a sweeping series of regulations and taxes on the newly legal drug.

The Senate Finance Committee approved two measures Friday to tax and regulate pot, but big questions remain before the annual session ends Wednesday.

Senators were haggling over pot testing standards and a proposal to ban the infusion of marijuana’s psychoactive ingredient, THC, into premade foods such as Twinkies and Pop Tarts.

As the marijuana measures advanced, Senate President John Morse told reporters he’s still thinking about pushing a brand-new ballot measure to ask voters whether marijuana legalization should be repealed without accompanying taxes. He told Coloradans to stay tuned.

Consider the simple cookie. It can be made with marijuana, but there’s a limit to how much is too much. And when it comes to minors, another state lawmaker has a new idea for the marketing of marijuana minors might see.

“We’ve seen increases to the emergency room in the last year or so on edibles from children,” said Rep. Dan Pabon, D-Denver. “We want to make sure that we’re protecting them.”

Pabon has been helping to making marijuana laws for months. Placing a limit of 10 milligrams per serving of THC in something edible has not been controversial and comes with some teeth. Some businesses could be shut down if they sell a cookie that is overloaded with too much THC

“That could be a possible enforcement mechanism, there could be license suspension,” Pabon said.

What is controversial is a late legislative idea requiring the removal of marijuana magazines from store shelves and selling them only from behind the counter, such as pornography.

“The idea is that we need to keep marijuana out of the hands of children; that we don’t want to encourage the use, we want to discourage the use by children,” said Rep. Bob Gardner, R-Colorado Springs.

Gardner is well aware limitations on the placement of a marijuana magazine might violate free speech. But he argues since government can control cigarette sales to minors, why not do the same with marijuana?

“Let me emphasize these publications are not banned, they’re not prohibited, they’re marketing is being controlled,” Gardner said.

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28Dec/120

Let the regulation begin….

County's first discussion over legal marijuana scheduled

4409558615_85421d2ce9Three Colorado counties are already progressing toward banning recreational marijuana businesses, and Larimer County commissioners will meet Jan. 14 to begin shaping the local course for managing them.

Colorado voters last month approved Amendment 64 legalizing recreational marijuana and the possession and distribution of up to 1 ounce or six plants for people 21 and older. But many facets of marijuana’s transition from taboo to commercial remain to be reconciled by state lawmakers and regulators, ranging from its taxation to its growth and distribution.

“The rules are so wide open, I don’t think we even know which way is up right now,” said Larimer County Commissioner Lew Gaiter.

Douglas County did not wait for the state to answer questions about the implementation of Amendment 64. Commissioners there have banned commercial marijuana businesses, and proposed bans are progressing in Weld and El Paso counties.

Larimer County commissioners said they are less inclined to take such a hard line, but they are willing to entertain slow-walking the establishment of marijuana enterprises until all of the state guidelines governing them are in place.

“The only thing that I might consider at this stage of the game is a temporary moratorium, not so that we can say, ‘No way, not in Larimer County,’ but so we can get our arms around the situation,” Gaiter said.

“That might be a wise thing until we have a level playing field and some certainty for people,” Commissioner Steve Johnson said.

All three Larimer County commissioners expressed their personal opposition to Amendment 64 before the election, but they now say that they accept the outcome and will honor it.

“Our job is to carry out the wishes of the voters in the best way for Larimer County,” Johnson said. “To ban the sale completely of something that according to state law people can legally possess and use is going to force them to obtain it illegally in the county, and that is not a good situation.”

Gaiter neither opposes marijuana businesses altogether nor supports a wide-open approach to them.

“There’s a lot of gray area around this that we need to define, but for me to say a hard, ‘No, no way, no matter what,’ I’m not there — or a hard yes under any circumstances, I’m not there either,” he said.

As they had with the proliferation of medical marijuana dispensaries, the commissioners will mull whether less-populated, rural portions of the county are suitable for marijuana business, or whether it makes better sense to shepherd them toward pockets of population, where resources such as utilities and law enforcement already are established.

“Really the only issue with the county probably is the land use issue,” said Commissioner Tom Donnelly. “The questions we’ll be dealing with will be whether we have adequate infrastructure to host large-scale commercial operations. That’s probably where our discussion will head. That’s probably a little more boring and a little less controversial than the details they’ll be working out in Denver.”

Nonetheless, everyone on the board expects that the spectrum of interests that collide at the intersection of legal marijuana and government will generate a lively discussion.

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24Dec/120

California = free for some

Marijuana, Not Yet Legal for Californians, Might as Well Be

nytimes.com

the gov says its just a plant

the gov says its just a plant

LOS ANGELES — Let Colorado and Washington be the marijuana trailblazers. Let them struggle with the messy details of what it means to actually legalize the drug. Marijuana is, as a practical matter, already legal in much of California
No matter that its recreational use remains technically against the law. Marijuana has, in many parts of this state, become the equivalent of a beer in a paper bag on the streets of Greenwich Village. It is losing whatever stigma it ever had and still has in many parts of the country, including New York City, where the kind of open marijuana use that is common here would attract the attention of any passing law officer.

“It’s shocking, from my perspective, the number of people that we all know who are recreational marijuana users,” said Gavin Newsom, the lieutenant governor. “These are incredibly upstanding citizens: Leaders in our community, and exceptional people. Increasingly, people are willing to share how they use it and not be ashamed of it.”

Marijuana can be smelled in suburban backyards in neighborhoods from Hollywood to Topanga Canyon as dusk falls — what in other places is known as the cocktail hour — often wafting in from three sides. In some homes in Beverly Hills and San Francisco, it is offered at the start of a dinner party with the customary ease of a host offering a chilled Bombay Sapphire martini.

Lighting up a cigarette (the tobacco kind) can get you booted from many venues in this rigorously antitobacco state. But no one seemed to mind as marijuana smoke filled the air at an outdoor concert at the Hollywood Bowl in September or even in the much more intimate, enclosed atmosphere of the Troubadour in West Hollywood during a Mountain Goats concert last week.

Arnold Schwarzenegger, the former Republican governor, ticked off the acceptance of open marijuana smoking in a list of reasons he thought Venice was such a wonderful place for his morning bicycle rides. With so many people smoking in so many places, he said in an interview this year, there was no reason to light up one’s own joint.

“You just inhale, and you live off everyone else,” said Mr. Schwarzenegger, who as governor signed a law decriminalizing possession of small amounts of marijuana.

Some Californians react disdainfully to anyone from out of state who still harbors illicit associations with the drug. Bill Maher, the television host, was speaking about the prevalence of marijuana smoking at dinner parties hosted by Sue Mengers, a retired Hollywood agent famous for her high-powered gatherings of actors and journalists, in an interview after her death last year. “I used to bring her pot,” he said. “And I wasn’t the only one.”

When a reporter sought to ascertain whether this was an on-the-record conversation, Mr. Maher responded tartly: “Where do you think you are? This is California in the year 2011.”

John Burton, the state Democratic chairman, said he recalled an era when the drug was stigmatized under tough antidrug laws. He called the changes in thinking toward marijuana one of the two most striking shifts in public attitude he had seen in 40 years here (the other was gay rights).

“I can remember when your second conviction of having a single marijuana cigarette would get you two to 20 in San Quentin,” he said.

In a Field Poll of California voters conducted in October 2010, 47 percent of respondents said they had smoked marijuana at least once, and 50 percent said it should be legalized. The poll was taken shortly before Californians voted down, by a narrow margin, an initiative to decriminalize marijuana.

“In a Republican year, the legalization came within two points,” said Chris Lehane, a Democratic consultant who worked on the campaign in favor of the initiative. He said that was evidence of the “fact that the public has evolved on the issue and is ahead of the pols.”

A study by the California Office of Traffic Safety last month found that motorists were more likely to be driving under the influence of marijuana than under the influence of alcohol.
Still, there are limits. No matter how much attitudes in California may have changed, it remains illegal in most of the country — as Californians have been reminded by a series of crackdowns by the Justice Department on medical marijuana here. People who use the drug recreationally, who said they would think nothing of offering a visitor a joint upon walking through the door, declined to be quoted by name, citing the risks to career and professional concerns.
That was the case even as they talked about marijuana becoming commonly consumed by professionals and not just, as one person put it, activists and aging hippies. Descriptions of marijuana being offered to arriving guests at parties, as an alternative to a beer, are common.

In places like Venice and Berkeley, marijuana has been a cultural presence, albeit an underground one, since the 1960s. It began moving from the edges after voters approved the legalization of medical marijuana in 1996.

That has clearly been a major contributor to the mainstreaming of marijuana. There is no longer any need for distasteful and legally compromising entanglements with old-fashioned drug dealers, several marijuana users said, because it is now possible to buy from a medical marijuana shop or a friend, or a friend of a friend growing it for ostensibly medical purposes.

That has also meant, several users said,¸that the quality of marijuana is more reliable and varied, and there are fewer concerns about subsidizing a criminal network. It also means, it seems, prices here are lower than they are in many parts of the country.

Mr. Newsom — who said he did not smoke marijuana himself — said that the ubiquity of the drug had led him to believe that laws against it were counterproductive and archaic. He supports its legalization, a notable position for a Democrat widely considered one of the leading contenders to be the next governor.

“These laws just don’t make sense anymore,” he said. “It’s time for politicians to come out of the closet on this.”

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18Oct/120

holy smokes

Holy schism emerges over marijuana legalization in Colorado, with clergy taking both sides

washingtonpost.com

DENVER — The stakes in Colorado’s marijuana debate are getting much higher — as in, all the way to heaven.

A vigorous back-and-forth between pot legalization supporters and foes entered the religious arena Wednesday. A slate of pastors called on Coloradans to reject making pot legal without a doctor’s recommendation.

“It’s heading to a path of total destruction,” warned Bishop Acen Phillips, who leads New Birth Temple of Praise Community Baptist Church in Denver.

About 10 pastors spoke at the event organized by the campaign to defeat the Colorado ballot proposal. If approved, the measure would allow adults over 21 to possess small amounts of marijuana for recreational use. Oregon and Washington have similar proposals before voters next month.

Colorado’s legalization supporters responded quickly to the holy war on pot, releasing a list of clergy members who support legalizing the drug and ending criminal penalties for its use. Those ministers argued that religious leaders and parents should guide decisions about marijuana, not the law.

“I do not support smoking pot. I do not like the stuff,” said the Rev. Bill Kirton, a retired Methodist minister in Denver. “But the harm it does is much less than sending more and more people to prison. And I think it’s time to legalize marijuana.”

Asked about supporting an illegal drug as a man of the cloth, Kirton chuckled that many of his former parishioners had probably tried marijuana. But he conceded that it can be difficult for active ministers to take a stand about the drug.

“A lot of pastors are, because of the toxic nature of current politics, they’re hesitant to speak out on issues,” Kirton said. Now retired, he said he feels more free to talk about pot. “I think there’s some hesitancy to speak out, but I think most of my peers would agree with me.”

Certainly not all of them, though. At the rival press conference, pastors warned that marijuana legalization could encourage youths to try the drug, leading to more serious problems later. They also repeated an argument made by Denver Mayor Michael Hancock, that legalizing marijuana could attract drug dealers and others who prey on the needy.

“Is this really what we want for children? I don’t think it is,” said the Rev. Gail Bailey of Deliverance Tabernacle in Denver.

The anti-pot ministers also cited Colorado’s 12 years of experience as a medical marijuana state. They said that ministers currently deal with negative effects of the drug.

“We help folks with a medical marijuana card and have seen it being abused. We’ve seen it end up in the hands of children,” said Pastor Robert Woolfolk of Agape Christian Church.

The religious divide over marijuana is the latest arena in which folks are taking sides on Colorado’s pot measure. The pro-marijuana and anti-marijuana groups have in recent weeks gone back and forth over who sides with them.

After some business leaders opposed it, other business owners and a worker’s union favored it. Last week, marijuana opponents announced the support of the Colorado chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics. In response, legalization supporters put out a list of 300 doctors who favor the measure.

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1Oct/120

De-regulate!

Pot legalization measure leads voters to debate safety, economy

By John Ingold
The Denver Post
LITTLETON — If Colorado voters in November approve Amendment 64 — which would legalize limited possession of marijuana — the state will enter territory that is uncharted, a national drug-policy expert said.

"It's tremendously uncertain," said Kevin Sabet, a former official with the Office of National Drug Control Policy who opposes legalization. "It's never been done before. So the question Coloradans have to ask themselves is: Do we want to be guinea pigs?"

At debates across the state this month, proponents and opponents have been going back and forth on that question and more. Would legalization increase teen marijuana use? Would it help the economy? Would it hurt public safety?

The amendment would legalize marijuana use for adults 21 and older and allow them to possess up to an ounce of marijuana and grow up to six plants in their homes. The measure also would allow for legalized marijuana stores, which could sell marijuana to adults. Local governments, though, could ban such stores from their jurisdiction.

The campaigns "for" and "against" squared off Wednesday at the University of Denver and Thursday in Fort Collins.

Thursday, Sabet and others also debated before a meeting of the Littleton R Block Party political group.

"We should have an honest debate," said Mason Tvert, one of the initiative's proponents, at the Littleton debate. "And honest debates begin with evidence. There just isn't any evidence of problems associated with marijuana laws as they change."

Tvert said legalized marijuana would pull a black-market economy into the light, causing the cartels and violent drug pushers who thrive on that economy to wither. Marijuana is already widely available, he said.

The measure would allow the state to regulate it and receive tax revenue from its sale, Tvert said.

But opponents of Amendment 64 criticized Tvert's argument, saying that legalized marijuana will lead to greater use by young people and more people driving stoned. To Tvert's arguments about cutting into the black market, Sabet said: "We would still have an underground market; they would only be targeting kids, though."

Ken Buck, the Weld County district attorney, said the federal government could crack down if Colorado legalized marijuana. But, even if it didn't, more liberalized marijuana laws would hurt the state's reputation.

"Our brand will go from business-friendly and healthy to Rocky Mountain high," Buck said.

Shaleen Title, an initiative proponent, said supporters of the amendment do not want teens to use marijuana or to see anyone abusing drugs. But, she said, the criminalization of marijuana takes resources away from substance-abuse treatment.

"The criminal justice system is taking up treatment spaces," she said.

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