Our View: Pot question is right step


Editorial Board, Sept. 25, 2011, to January 2012

  • Scott Stanford, general manager
  • Brent Boyer, editor
  • Tom Ross, reporter

Contact the editorial board at 970-871-4221 or editor@SteamboatToday.com. Would you like to be a member of the board? Fill out a letter of interest now.

A campaign to legalize marijuana in Colorado appears headed to the November ballot, representing the logical next step in getting clarity on what state residents truly want when it comes to the availability and enforcement of the popular recreational drug, as opposed to the medical use allowed under current law. This clarity has been missing up to this point.

For many marijuana advocates, legalization is the ultimate goal, and they say the passage of Amendment 20 in 2000 was the first major stepping stone for achieving that goal. But the medical marijuana industry that was borne out of Amendment 20 has been extremely controversial, particularly in the past few years, when dispensaries began cropping up in communities across the state, including Steamboat Springs.

This past fall, voters in Routt County, Steamboat Springs and Oak Creek voted against banning medical marijuana businesses in their communities. Many other Colorado municipalities have gone the opposite direction, with their residents approving bans on dispensaries.

Now, an advocacy group in Colorado has turned in a ballot petition with about 160,000 signatures. If 86,000 of those signatures are from valid state voters, the legalization initiative will make the November ballot. The measure would make possession of as much as 1 ounce of marijuana legal for adults 21 and older. Residents could grow as many as six marijuana plants in their homes, and marijuana retail stores would be permitted, though communities could choose to ban such stores.

A similar statewide measure badly failed in 2006, but it remains to be seen how Coloradans’ attitudes toward pot have changed in the six years since, particularly with the explosion of the medical marijuana industry.

We’re not prepared to endorse or oppose the legalization of marijuana in Colorado — the consequences of legalization are far-reaching and will be debated and discussed in the months to come — but we do think the ballot initiative is the proper path to take. This fall, when the Steamboat Pilot & Today editorial board supported the ban on medical marijuana dispensaries in Steamboat Springs and Routt County, it said that if marijuana advocates want to see marijuana OK’d for recreational use by residents, then they ought to bring it to the voters. Now that they appear poised to do exactly that, we find ourselves in complete support of bringing the question to the ballot.


Scott Wedel 5 years, 3 months ago

Nice usage of biased description: "marijuana advocates"

Polls make it clear that most people that have supported MMJ are not currently using MJ. Nor, as former users, are they advocating MJ.

Nope, it is people opposing to the criminalization of MJ. That the enforcement of drug laws related to MJ and the gangs profiting from MJ distribution are far more harmful than the actual effects of MJ.


trump_suit 5 years, 3 months ago

Scott, I would postulate that your statement holds true for ALL drugs. We could be so much more effective at fighting the real problems of addiction and abuse if we would acknowledge that the "War on Drugs" is causing more problems for our country than the drugs themselves ever did.

Yes it is painful to see loved ones and friends disappear into that hole that is addiction, but is throwing them in jail really helping to solve their problem? Guns, gangs and money define the problem and the black market is the source of all three.

I am not saying that the use of drugs is a good thing. What I am saying is that we have been fighting the wrong problem with the wrong tools. Kind of like fixing the hole in your boat with nothing but a hammer. If we spent our money on treatment and education instead of crime and punishment we would actually begin fighting the real issues instead of locking up those people that truly need help and creating the black market that is the source of so many problems in our society.


Scott Wedel 5 years, 3 months ago

Well, now that non-medical use of painkillers causes more deaths that car crashes due to killing 1% or so of users per year, I doubt that it would be worth legalizing all drugs. Though, that is harder to stop because big pharma makes money from those pills and they resist efforts to tighten patient's access to drugs. (A thinly reported scandal is how USA cough syrup still had ingredients that was easily converted to meth years after Europe banned that ingredient and places like Walmart were happily selling cases of cough syrup. Sales dropped by about 25% once that ingredient was finally removed).

Anyway, what is the best way to handle illegal drugs that cause deaths or severe health damage is not easy to answer. Is heroin not so readily available because the laws are tougher or because fewer people want to use it?

But, for mj which most medical studies are less harmful than alcohol or tobacco and are not physically addictive and criminalization has completely failed to limit availability then commonsense would be toward legalization.

The push to full legalization may not succeed since the current mmj system is working okay for most. People can get their drugs. And it is regulated and controlled so that outrageous illegal stuff is not rampant.


mtroach 5 years, 3 months ago

Scott, are the laws regarding Heroin any more strict than those restricting MJ? I thought part of this proMJ agenda was to highlight the fact that although heroin is far more addictive and dangerous, MJ is considered by the law just as illegal, and the punishments for possession of either were similar.


sledneck 5 years, 3 months ago

Isn't the "pile-it" and the Craig paper the same company??

I read a very interesting op-ed piece in the Craig paper (friday or saturday) touting the benifits of oil production and stating basically that Routt county's foolish move to tighten down would be good for Moffatt county.

Would such words ever be printed for the Steamboat congregation??? I doubt it.


Scott Wedel 5 years, 3 months ago

Same ownership, but with community board editorials then they can appeal to locals as compared to having a company wide consistent editorials. On the issue of fracking, I think Routt County does not care if regulations push some drilling to Moffat County. Routt County has expensive homes along it's county roads Drilling trucks tearing up county roads could cause as much economic harm to tourism and property values as is gained from the drilling activity.

As for drug laws, mj possession of small amounts has been decriminalized while possession is still a more serious crime for other drugs. MJ dealing and distribution are still serious crimes.

To be a touch cynical, of course the paper is for the ballot question and the advertising of a political campaign. I suppose next they will suggest that SB 700 should be put back on the ballot.


kathy foos 5 years, 3 months ago

Moffat County is more flat without much surface waters.We have many more surface waters flowing out of Wilderness Areas in Routt County.No tourists to manage in Moffat.They may be sorry yet for the fracturing going on,but its thier county,not our home.Its just too bad oil won't just be harvested,they must include the outrageous hydo-gas- fracturing.Stupid and dangerous.Our pure water Routt County water should reach Moffat county and if they pollute the water there is not much we can do about it.Hopefully the EPA,Wildlife Division,National Forest Service,BLM and people can protect all places in Colorado.We have our county 's people that have a say about our future pollutions.This year water will be short in both county's,no permits ,simple.Since we are the top of the mountains,lets keep the water flowing purely. Sled neck you said a few days ago that energy comes from the earth.I think it's only "old style" energy we get from inside the earth, we have to save remaining fossil fuel for future generations ,can't "hog"it all up.The wind is energy,nuclear is not in the earth,surface water is energy,and of course the sun.Bio-fuels and even algae can be used for energy.Manure makes it,the oceans tides ,gravity and magnitism.We make great strides in space and atom's are being split smaller than ever.With all the smart people in this world and the elements presented to us by God,I believe that this planet can do better than just polluting water, air,land ,humans,livestock birds,fish and mammals,to grab some stinking oil.It's only the oil companys pushing oil for money. We need to get off of the fossil fuels or our grandkids are going to be functioning in a really crappy world.


sledneck 5 years, 3 months ago

Kathy, I'm not sure why, but I have still not given up on you.

I thought fracking was about groundwater ie underground water, not surface water????

ALL energy comes from the ground in one way or another, Kathy.

Uranium for nuclear is mined from the ground. The containment structures are made of concrete and steel from the ground. How would you harness wind energy without turbines and towers made from steel, copper and other ground-based material? How would you harness hydroelectric energy without concrete and steel from the ground to make dams and steel and copper and other ground-based metals for turbines? The silicone that is used to produce solar panels comes from the earths crust which is 25% silicone. Even if a magic unicorn GAVE you free electricity you would still need steel and copper and other ground-based metals for transmission lines, distribution lines, transformers, etc. And even if electric cars worked (which they do not) they are still made from metal, plastic, rubber tires and glass(silica) windshields.

So how are you going to extract these materials from beneath the earth, harvest them from its surface or transport them to markets without fossil fuel?


4genlocal 5 years, 3 months ago

Kathy last time I checked moffat county had two large rivers where Routt only has one there is more water flowing in moffat than Routt Sled don't you know the self important will never learn?


JJ Southard 5 years, 3 months ago

Nothin like a hi-jacked comment section, go ahead people! Yack it up


rhys jones 5 years, 3 months ago

Yeah, and as long as we're on the subject: How about that Tebow, eh? Go Broncos!!


housepoor 5 years, 3 months ago

It will be interesting to the how mmj dispensaries react to this. Legalization pretty much puts them out of business.


Scott Wedel 5 years, 3 months ago

Or legalization makes the dispensaries into the legal distributors and doesn't require their customers to get mmj licenses.

As long as the federal government is enforcing federal mj laws then a move towards legalization in Colorado might actually be a step backwards. Colorado's mmj laws are written to provide a legal means of dealing with mj within state lines. The US Supreme Court decision on MMJ, Gonzales v Raich, said in that case the person's mmj was indistinguishable from mj in the interstate drug trade and so feds had jurisdiction via the interstate commerce clause of the Constitution. But Colorado MMJ laws creates state monitored mmj that can be tracked to be shown whether it was legally grown and sold within state lines. So Colorado has a case that feds have no jurisdiction over Colorado mmj since Colorado mmj occurs purely within state lines.

So before advancing towards legalization, it might make sense to first move forward on the legal status of Colorado's mmj laws in federal court.

And if legalization were to pass, I think it would be entirely possible that dispensaries continue to operate as now. Now they have legal cover and dispensaries have too much invested to sell to anyone and risk being busted by the feds.


sledneck 5 years, 3 months ago

Nullification. If it starts with MJ that's fine with me.


Scott Wedel 5 years, 3 months ago

Sledneck, Colorado MMJ is not actually the nullification theory of state's rights. It is actually the state carving out a purely intrastate regulated mmj business which may be exempt from federal jurisdiction because it does not fall under the interstate commerce clause.

Nullification has not been accepted by the courts as a valid legal theory.

The current Supreme Court has ruled there are limits on the commerce clause justifying federal intervention in local affairs. So if the feds were to bust a dispensary following Colorado law then it would be expected to result in a court case that would eventually reach the Supreme Court.


Requires free registration

Posting comments requires a free account and verification.