The success of the three major initiatives to relegalize Marijuana will determine how quickly relegalization happens nationwide. Ballot initiatives in Oregon, Washington state and Colorado open the door to complete decriminalization, taxing and regulating Marijuana like alcohol. Based on all I have heard, seen and read, if any one of these initiatives passes, relegalization will happen within three years. If two or more pass, we will see it nationwide within two years.

Oregon’s Measure 80 would advance the cause most significantly, but is getting extreme opposition from some well-financed groups. Washington State’s I-502 has some flaws, but still advances the cause. Colorado’s Issue 64 is likely to pass. This is the latest endorsement of 64 by the Aurora, Colorado Sentinel newspaper.

Extracted from the Aurora (Colorado) Sentinel, 10/11/12.
http://www.aurorasentinel.com/opinion/sentinel-endorsements-for-2012-miklosi-for-cd6-yes-on-amendment-64/

SENTINEL ENDORSEMENTS FOR 2012: MIKLOSI FOR CD6; YES ON AMENDMENT 64

State Amendment 64: It’s time to end useless prohibition

We have heard the opposition to Amendment 64 loud and clear. The measure seeks to legalize marijuana for recreational use. But the arguments against ending marijuana prohibition, as well-meaning as they might be, ring as hollow as did those against ending alcohol prohibition decades ago.

Here are the facts: Even after marijuana was made an illegal drug, millions of Americans continue to use it. And they will in the future. Keeping marijuana illegal creates a massive, malevolent and uncontrollable drug industry that is currently a violent and murderous terrorist entity in Mexico. That gruesome industry will certainly move into the United States sooner rather than later. The so-called war on drugs has become nothing but an outrageously expensive and ineffective boondoggle.

Despite marked efforts to decriminalize marijuana use for adults, there are still many instances where those convicted of carrying or using small amounts of the drug are branded with lifelong and serious consequences. These consequences have cost some Colorado residents their jobs and more, pushing people toward a life of instability rather than a life of being drug free.

We join almost all of Colorado in understanding that marijuana use by young adolescents is dangerous and damaging. But continuing on the road of prohibition only serves to ensure more teens will abuse marijuana rather than fewer. Marijuana usage has seen increases not only because it’s more available due to the change in medical marijuana laws in Colorado, but because the drug itself continues to become more socially acceptable and available across the country. Rather than spend billions of dollars on futilely chasing Mexican criminals who supply most of America’s pot habit, that money could be spent on successful programs to turn teens away from use or at least abuse, and offer treatment to those who have a problem with marijuana, depression or other substance abuse issues. Prevention can and does work, and so does regulation.

But we must first decriminalize, legalize and regulate marijuana, just as the country did with alcohol before effective abuse programs and legislation can be implemented.

Colorado and the rest of the country cannot end the use and abuse of marijuana whether it’s legal or not. But the country can use marijuana revenues to push for responsible use, just like we do with alcohol.

Amendment 64 is not a panacea that will overnight solve the problems illegal marijuana has created. There is no doubt that a bevy of court cases and grueling legislative fights will be born from this measure.

But this amendment serves as an effective referendum on marijuana prohibition, and it will almost certainly be followed by other states that have come to the same conclusion as has Colorado. This measure will move the debate across the country to Washington DC, where marijuana prohibition must come to meet its final end.

Colorado and the rest of the country must and will do all it can to ensure that all citizens work to lead healthy, productive lives free from unnecessary or ineffective government control. Several decades ago, leaders in this state and this country realized that legislating against the use of alcohol had only damaging effects on individuals and society. It simply does not work. It’s taken too long for the country to realize that marijuana prohibition is just as ineffective, and possibly even more damaging. Amendment 64 is not the perfect answer to this long-standing dilemma, but it’s the best solution available, and it’s infinitely better than continuing on a road that leads only to ruin.