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Fight to legalize marijuana continues in Colorado, part 1

It's only January, but there are already at least two attempts within the state related to legalizing marijuana use in Colorado. In this post, we will discuss one legislative effort to give Coloradans more freedom to use marijuana without facing drug charges. An upcoming post will discuss a different bill with a similar goal but different details.

The first proposal that will likely be put up for vote on Colorado's November ballot is called the "Colorado Initiative to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol." Its title might not be extremely catchy, but it does capture the basic goal of the bill.

In order for a proposal to come to a vote, its sponsors must collect a significant amount of signatures in support of the measure. Sources report that more than 86,000 valid signatures are necessary for the proposal to move forward. As of early this month, about 160,000 signatures had been collected. That bodes well for the proposal, at least with regards to it making it on the ballot.

But what changes to marijuana laws does this proposal set out to make? The basic legal limit it aims to set is that adults who are 21 and over would not be charged with a crime for the possession of one ounce or less of marijuana. The drug could be sold within the state, but taxes made off of marijuana would go toward a positive cause, public schools.

The proposal keeps it a crime for someone to drive under the influence of the drug. Essentially, supporters of this bill see marijuana as similar to alcohol. Adults can responsibly use alcohol. When they don't and, for example, they drive while drunk, the system has every right and responsibility to pursue criminal charges.

Of course, while there is widespread support for this proposal in Colorado, it has its passionate opponents as well. Critics worry that decriminalization will support a rise in drug addiction and teen drug use in the state.

A source calls Colorado the "epicenter of the legalization campaign in the country." Supporters of legalization in the state take pride in the fact that the rest of the country can look to Colorado for inspiration to pursue changes in drug laws.

But even if this proposal were approved, there is still the issue of the federal laws against marijuana. They have complicated and could likely continue to complicate Colorado's attempted steps toward decriminalizing marijuana use.

Our next post will discuss a different Colorado proposal regarding marijuana laws.

Source

9News.com: "Marijuana legalization supporters trying to get on Nov. ballot," Chris Vanderveen, Jan. 4, 2012

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