Friday, August 9, 2013

Marijuana: Sen. Morse named Worst Legislator of 2013

Posted by on Fri, Aug 9, 2013 at 5:00 PM

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You may have heard that Colorado Springs Sen. John Morse has been winning friends and influencing people in the gun-toting community. But there are others anxious to tell the former law-enforcement officer how they feel about him — the Marijuana Policy Project, for one.

So, today, the Washington, D.C.-based advocacy group that funded the majority of the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol issued its list of the Worst Legislators of 2013. Besides Morse, there's only one other Democrat on the list — Florida Rep. Darryl Rouson, who apparently "sponsored a successful bill to ban the sale of pipes and bongs, which he referred to as 'utensils of death.'"

But the actions of Rouson, or assorted Republicans, weren't enough to take the No. 1 spot on the list. And considering how often I still hear about it, it's not surprising to find that Morse is the lucky winner. Here's a May 6 story by John Ingold at the Denver Post:

"Marijuana advocates late Monday fought back an effort that could have halted Colorado's plans for legal marijuana shops, ending a debate that swept through the state Capitol like a dust devil for a little more than three hours," Ingold reported. "The resolution was introduced at about 6 p.m. on the third-to-last day of the legislative session — the absolute last moment it could have been formally proposed. It was sponsored by two dozen senators, including Senate President John Morse."

MPP describes it as Morse trying "to sneak a bill through in the final hours of the session ..." Interestingly, fellow recall candidate Sen. Angela Giron, from Pueblo, also co-sponsored Concurrent Resolution 13-003, which would have suspended Amendment 64 if voters didn't pass the excise-tax vote.

Ingold describes a scene wherein lobbyists and staffers were scrambling for copies of the just-introduced resolution, while marijuana advocates went running up the State Capitol Building stairs to testify against it. The bill still managed to pass a Senate committee an hour after it saw life, the Post reported, but the threat of dedicated opposition from other lawmakers ultimately killed it.

In an e-mailed response to the Independent, Morse echoed comments made in May to the Post and the Associated Press: "I support the legalization of marijuana, and I think it should be legalized at the federal level," he wrote today. "What I don't support is implenting [sic] Amendment 64 in Colorado without providing, and paying for, adequate regulatory oversight that ensures that we provide it only to those eligible and that we keep it from our children. We should focus first on public safety and making sure we do this right."

We also e-mailed a little bit with Mason Tvert, MPP's current director of communications, but also a co-author of the amendment and longtime Colorado marijuana advocate. I asked him if Morse would have ranked as highly had Tvert himself not had a hand in 64:

"Nope [it was not a factor]," he wrote. "It was based on: 1. The significance of the initiative 2. The fact that it would potentially repeal a measure that voters approved just months earlier 3. How hard he pushed for it 4. The egregious nature of his efforts (ie. trying to sneak it in at the last minute on the last day of the session). Had the same situation occurred in WA, there would have been a tie for first."

Check out the other offenders in the video below, and brace yourself for Cher.


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