Amendment 64 debate: locals on both sides speaking out

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GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KKCO) -- Grand Junction resident Ladonna Lee said she used to be an advocate against any drug use.

"I thought drugs are for losers, only deadbeats do drugs," Lee said.

But when pain from multiple sclerosis made it difficult for Lee to function, she got a license for medical marijuana. Since that day four years ago, she said her life has changed.

"I've done a complete 360. It helps with the pain, and I don't have to pay for pharmaceuticals or have the side effects," Lee said. "The way I deal with my pain is I tense up my shoulders up around my ears. After I smoke marijuana or eat my brownie, the pain level decreases."

While Lee said she has changed from an advocate against marijuana to an advocate for the use of it, Amendment 64 remains what's considered to be the most controversial ballot item facing Colorado voters this November.

Mesa County Sheriff Stan Hilkey joined county sheriffs across the state this week in expressing opposition to legalization of marijuana.

"You have to ask yourself: do you know anybody that has a medical marijuana card, and if you do, do they really have a medical condition that they're using marijuana for?" Hilkey said. "They're certainly out there but most people are just using the medical piece as an excuse to get to smoke medical marijuana."

While Lee disagrees with Hilkey, the sheriff said medicinal marijuana should not be considered an argument for Amendment 64. Rather, he said the legalization of marijuana will put additional strain on community resources.

"[The doctor] has a relationship with the patient. That is their job to worry about their patient," Hilkey said. "Their job is not so much as to worry about big public policy and community safety issues."

If passed, Amendment 64 would make it legal for adults 21 years and older to possess marijuana. The ballot item stipulates that the first $40 million generated from marijuana tax be credited to the public school capital consumption assistance fund.

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