Pot activists to turn in Colorado legalization petition

By: Heather Chiappini Email
By: Heather Chiappini Email

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo (KKCO) -- Colorado voters might have a marijuana decision to make in the 2012 election.

People who want to legalize it, turned in signatures today to put the question on the ballot.

If approved it would regulate marijuana like alcohol. Supporters say they have gathered 160,000 signatures, well over the 86,000 signatures needed to put the question before voters.

The marijuana measure asks voters to make pot possession legal in small amounts for adults over 21, without a doctor’s recommendation.

Right now if you are caught with two ounces or less of marijuana you can end up paying $100 in fines and it's considered a petty offense.

On Wednesday one marijuana legalization activist group turned in thousands of signatures for a 2012 state wide initiative.

The head of Colorado’s pot campaign, Mason Tvert, said "It would remove penalties for adults, 21 and older possessing small amounts of marijuana, and establish a regulatory framework in which marijuana is controlled and regulated in a manor similar to alcohol."

The state has 30 days to certify signatures and decided whether the pot measure will be on the ballots. If certified the question will be the first cleared measure for Colorado's 2012 election. It will also allow the industrial cultivation, processing and sale of industrial hemp.

"Which has been shown to be a useful crop that is currently used widely in this country but it’s all being produced abroad because it's currently illegal so that's certainly something that would be beneficial to folks both on the Western Slope and the Easter Claims," says Tvert.

The measure will allow all adults over 21 to have possession of 1 ounce of marijuana for personal use and limited home-growing. It will establish a system in which marijuana is regulated and taxed similarly to alcohol.

"Allow us to generate significant tax revenue for this state, while also better controlling marijuana, keeping it out of the black market and away from young people," says Tvert.

The first 40 million dollars of that tax revenue will be directed to public schools construction projects in Colorado.

But even with 160,000 signatures not everyone is on board. Diane Cox, who spearheaded local efforts to shut down medical marijuana dispensaries in Mesa County, says she won't be voting for the measure.

"It's a serious issue especially in regards to the young people, because we know when you legalize something, you greatly increase the availability and we think that's going to greatly increase the drug addiction and all the serious problems that go along with that," says Cox.

And with the 160,000 signatures that were gathered activists say that they were able to get signatures from all over the state including Grand Junction.

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