Roger Sherman: Legalization not simple

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Legalizing the sale, possession and use of marijuana in Colorado by passing Amendment 64 is not simply a question of whether we think it’s appropriate for Coloradans to smoke pot. Amendment 64 raises serious questions about the proper role of our state constitution, the effect liberalizing our marijuana law will have beyond our state borders and whether we want to defy existing federal law.

The U.S. Constitution, which many people consider the finest, most succinct legal document ever written, is distinguished by the limited number of issues that its 27 amendments address. They almost all deal with extremely important — foundational — issues. Colorado’s constitution, by contrast, has been amended more than 150 times for issues great and small.

Colorado voters already approved a constitutional amendment legalizing the use of marijuana for medicinal uses. Its provisions conflict with some of the provisions in Amendment 64. Bringing them into sync will require expensive litigation that a cash-strapped state cannot afford — or, even worse, another constitutional amendment.

There’s not enough space or time here to enumerate all of Amendment 64’s potential unintended consequences. A few include: the damage to our image as we become the marijuana capital of the country; the likelihood that Colorado will be a magnet for out-of-staters coming in to purchase and transport pot to other places where it is illegal; and the likelihood that in impaired driving traffic fatalities will increase.

Lastly, even with Amendment 64, use, possession and sale of marijuana still will be illegal under federal law. That’s confusing to our citizens, and it sets our state up for expensive federal lawsuits.

It’s important that Coloradans are talking about whether legalizing marijuana is a good idea, but it is a dialogue and decision that properly should be taking place on a national level.

Roger Sherman

Campaign director for Smart Colorado, an issue committee opposed to Amendment 64

Comments

Dan Hill 1 year, 10 months ago

If the US Constitution was still worth a damn, if we still believed in and lived its most basic principle--of the government staying the hell out of our lives if we're not hurting anyone else--I would agree with Roger Sherman.

That's not the world we live in. So we are stuck with whatever means we have available to try to roll back the intrustive and overbearing hand of the Federal government.

A government that can tell you what subtances you can put in your body is a government that owns you. We're supposed to be "land of the free" not "land of the free--unless the goverment wants to protect you from yourself".

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rhys jones 1 year, 10 months ago

Yeah, they've been staying off the roads all these years, but once it's legal, them stoners gonna kill everybody.

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beverly lemons 1 year, 10 months ago

It is simple.

Criminalizing marijuana commits too many resources into fighting an essentially non-addictive, beneficial herb. Decriminalization forces our community and state to put criminal and drug fighting monies where they belong-hard drug manufacture, distribution and addiction. As more and more states decriminalize hemp and mj, the federal government will follow.

It is ridiculous that pill mills operate legally, but growing a few plants will land one in jail.

I support amendment 64 (already voted for it) as do many law enforcement, civil, medical and community groups. I am a non-pot using grandmother, by the way, not a stoner.. But, if it makes any of you right wing prohibitionists feel better to call me names while nursing your beer, go ahead.

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John St Pierre 1 year, 9 months ago

Just over 150 years ago this country was embroiled in its bloodiest conflict to determine States rights. It was Lincoln ( a republican by the way) who coined the phrase "THE United States of America" verses what then was the common "These United States of America"...

Amendment 64 is another example of the long trail of silliness to change the outcome of America's bloodiest struggle. If this issue has so much support then it needs to be changed at the proper level of government. When enough of the population feels it needs to be changed... it will be!!!

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rhys jones 1 year, 9 months ago

I can't think of a better way to tell the Feds what we want.

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Scott Wedel 1 year, 9 months ago

It is simple because it does not change the rules for dispensaries which already operate in clear violation of federal law. Nor is it difficult for anyone in Colorado to get a mmj card and buy mmj. A legal analysis suggests the feds have decided against raiding Colorado dispensaries since Colorado is the only state that has comprehensive regulations from seed to sale to registered person. Thus, Colorado would become a test case on the limits of federal powers by the interstate commerce clause because Colorado dispensaries are not involved in sales to other states or residences of other states. Thus, a federal case would become a test case that could show other states how to have legal marijuana within it's borders.

Amendment 64 would be mostly symbolic, but that is still important because when states start opting out of the drug war on marijuana then the federal war might finally end.

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mark hartless 1 year, 9 months ago

Ammendment 64 is a great example of Nullification, by a state, of a Federal mandate. Nullification is something the 50 states must begin to practice. This alone is reason enough to support Ammendment 64.

Add in the fact that I own my body, my garden, and my wallet and, likewise, so does every other person in this state, and that makes it a no-brainer.

I disagree that this will be "confusing to our citizens". In fact, I think it might be illustrative in showing some of them how, without all the mandates from DC, life might actually be simpler. After all, once this is passed one could easily argue: Which law is it that really makes things complicated, the one written in Denver that leaves me alone to choose, or the one out of DC that tells me what to do and not to do?

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Michelle Hale 1 year, 9 months ago

All real change starts from the bottom up. By Colorado taking this on, we can see some real change and real conversation on this. I for one am in favor of this.

What a person does in their home and on their own time is their business. Now, I don't see the laws changing if there is Urine or Hair Folical test,, and one looses employement, or a chance of employment because of smoking weed. But, again it is a choice. By making the uses of marijuana legal, we can focus attention on things that matter, like real crime.

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Scott Wedel 1 year, 9 months ago

Nullification is a legal theory that has been rejected by the federal courts.

The relevant legal basis is interstate commerce and needs to be possible for states to let it's citizens follow state laws for personal decisions that are not affect interstate commerce.

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mark hartless 1 year, 9 months ago

If the interstate commerce clause was intended to over-ride just about every other word, phrase or idea found in the Constitution (which is what is happening now a days) then why would those other parts have even been included?

Why have a 10th ammendment at all? Why, if a group of people believed the Federal Government should be as all-powerful as it has become, would that same group of people turn right around and, with their very next breath, say something as contradictory as: "The powers not delegated to the United States, or prohibited to it by the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people." ???

Of course the Imperial Federal Government's courts would reject the idea of Nullification. That's like me saying I reject my wife's authority to leave me if I don't treat her well.

The whole point of Nullification is for the STATES to reject what the Fed's say, instead of always having it the other way around. As I said before, What is Ginsberg, Clarence Thomas or Scalia gonna' do if Colorado says, "Screw you, we're gonna let people smoke pot".??? What are those clowns in DC gonna do about it????

Ultimately, they have about as much power to stop it as I have to forcibly stop my wife from leaving me.

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rhys jones 1 year, 9 months ago

Our favorite Uncle could easily threaten to withhold highway funds -- the same sword they held over States who failed to adopt 55 MPH back in the '70's -- welfare, food stamps, tax breaks, who knows what muscles they might flex, thereby nullifying the opinion of our populace. I would have a serious problem with that, hoping for the day I could move my location-neutral business to a more neutral location. (As if they're going to change one iota of what happens anyway, only difference being the money trail.)

My 85-year-old Republican Mom who still volunteers her time for Garfield County Sheriff's Auxiliary says she voted Yes on 64 -- what better endorsement could there be?

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mark hartless 1 year, 9 months ago

Yes, they could hold highway funds, or some of those other things.

As with individuals, states can not be both autonomous and dependant on Uncle Scam at the same time. Being autonomous means exactly that, and sometimes it's painful.

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