The news releases have begun to pour in from marijuana advocacy organizations, which can only mean thing: Legalization efforts have begun. And of course, since nobody works together better than marijuana types, the ballot issue has already drawn heat ... from another advocacy organization.
But first, some background. In my inbox I received a release from a group called The Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol — backed by the national Marijuana Policy Project, Drug Policy Alliance, Sensible Colorado, and SAFER — that it would begin collecting the roughly 86,000 signatures needed to qualify for next year's ballot.
"Voters in Colorado are ready to end marijuana prohibition and begin regulating and taxing it in a manner similar to alcohol," says attorney Brian Vicente, one of the initiative's two formal proponents, in the release. "By regulating and taxing marijuana like alcohol, Colorado can tightly control its production and sale, generate tens of millions of dollars in new tax revenue, and redirect our limited law enforcement resources toward serious crimes."
Of course, there's another group out there who also wants to make changes to Colorado's marijuana laws. Here's a release from Boulder-based Legalize 2012, taking issue with the other group's name. In a memo beginning "Dear reporters" and continuing with tips on what to call the campaign, Legalize 2012 says, "If the [other] initiative is enacted, it must to be referred to as 'Section 16. Personal Use and Regulation of Marijuana' or 'Article XVIII, Section 16 of the Colo. Constitution.' Since the phrase 'Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Act of 2012' does not appear anywhere in the actual language of the law, and only in the proponents' marketing material, and since it will never be referred to it as that if it is enacted, we ask that reporters refrain from using this inaccurate phrase that will confuse voters."
The Boulder group says the Vicente's ballot language could confuse voters, because Legalize 2012 is working on a "true" legalization effort, while The Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol is only changing parts of the criminal code to allow for one ounce and six-or-fewer plants.
For what it's worth, Legalize 2012 also objects to the other group's use of "marijuana" as opposed to "cannabis" saying, "'Marijuana' is a racist term invented during the 1920s Reefer Madness campaign to make people believe that it was some new drug that Mexicans were using and going out and raping white women."
Ah, the sweet sound of people working together toward a common goal. It's not like they're believers in a plant that's been on the losing side of an 80-year-old PR war with miles of ground to make up; there's lots of time to argue over this crap. Name-wise, just like Westword, I'm fine either way.