AlterNet.org: Art Way http://blogs.alternet.org/authors/art-way en Colorado Celebrates Legalization Anniversary: Massive Drop in Arrests and Millions in Tax Revenue http://blogs.alternet.org/drugs/colorado-celebrates-legalization-anniversary-massive-drop-arrests <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Chicken Little was wrong. </div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/marijuana_co.jpg" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>More than three years have passed since Colorado residents voted to legalize marijuana, which immediately allowed adults to possess and cultivate limited amounts of marijuana. This past New Year’s Day marked the <a href="http://www.cnn.com/2014/01/02/opinion/way-denver-marijuana/" target="_blank">two year anniversary</a> of adults being able to legally buy marijuana in Colorado.  The policy is still in its formative stage, but the <a href="http://www.drugpolicy.org/resource/marijuana-legalization-colorado-one-year-status-report" target="_blank">first year after marijuana sales</a> started in Colorado went very well and we continue to see the good shape of things to come.</p><p>The destruction imagined by opponents of legalization in 2012 never came true and is unlikely to materialize.  Public safety benchmarks are under scrutiny in a manner never seen under prohibition and there is no real cause for panic in the foreseeable future. In short, the current state of legalization is more reflective of the world imagined by proponents – legalization works!</p><p>Of course that doesn’t prevent many from making broad assumptions and speculating about dangers associated with legalization.  What’s important for the world to know is the policy is growing under the guidance of a family of state regulators, reform advocates, health practitioners and responsible industry affiliates.<br />As we mark the Jan 1st anniversary of marijuana legalization in Colorado, let’s take a look at some unquestionable characteristics this policy is starting to reveal in its first couple of years.</p>1) Thousands Not Arrested for Marijuana in Colorado<p> </p><p>This initial and <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2015/03/26/after-legalization-colorado-pot-arrests-plunge/" target="_blank">foundational aspect of marijuana legalization</a> is often overlooked – marijuana arrests in Colorado have plummeted. We’ve seen possession, cultivation and distribution charges for marijuana cumulatively drop over 80%. Thousands of people in the state are no longer facing the immediate or collateral impact of a marijuana arrest. These thousands we speak of are <a href="https://www.thefix.com/content/colorado-marijuana-laws-blacks-latinos90827" target="_blank">disproportionately young black and brown men</a> who now face one less obstacle of the many they endure in this country. We’ve also seen all drug-related charges drop by 23% on a judicial district level since the passage of amendment 64.</p>2) Revenue Allocation for Important Services<p> </p><p>Colorado is projected to have brought in <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2015/sep/21/colorado-marijuana-tax-revenues-2015" target="_blank">over 125 million dollars</a> in taxes for 2015.  These monies are put into a fund to improve local public schools or are collected by the state to be divvied up via the Governor’s allocation plan.  The Governor’s plan provides a snapshot as to what a <a href="http://www.apha.org/policies-and-advocacy/public-health-policy-statements/policy-database/2015/01/23/10/17/regulating-commercially-legalized-marijuana-as-a-public-health-priority" target="_blank">public health approach to marijuana</a> looks like—funds are distributed to public education, behavioral health, law enforcement and youth prevention.</p><p>The <a href="http://www.attn.com/stories/4026/colorado-marijuana-revenue" target="_blank">Governor's plan</a> in the 2015/2016 fiscal year alone will allocate 23 million dollars to such groups as the Tony Grampsas Youth Development program, which provides necessary services to youth at risk likely to be disproportionately targeted by punitive prohibition policies in the first place.</p><p>Colorado and other pioneering states are showing us what a reality-based, public health approach to marijuana looks like.  These states are laboratories of democracy funding studies on the impact of marijuana and looking to allocate resources where needed and most effective. This while <a href="http://www.drugpolicy.org/news/2015/12/us-government-sides-colorado-urging-supreme-court-reject-neighboring-states-challenge-c" target="_blank">other states</a> are still depending on users and possessors to remain fodder for their criminal justice system.</p><p>Happy anniversary, Colorado!</p><p> </p> Tue, 05 Jan 2016 10:35:00 -0800 Art Way, AlterNet 1048443 at http://blogs.alternet.org Drugs Drugs Economy News & Politics marijuana legalization colorado arrests tax revenues Medical Marijuana Mom's Son Seized After He Talks About Pot's Benefits http://blogs.alternet.org/drugs/outrage-kansas-medical-marijuana-mom-son-seized-classroom-comments <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">A well-known activist is fighting for her parental rights after Kansas police and CPS took her child.</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/images/managed/storyimages_1340821938_family.jpg" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>A mother already suffering from a debilitating medical condition now must fight the state of Kansas to<a href="http://www.gofundme.com/rw8p88r" target="_blank">  maintain her parental rights</a>.</p><p>Shona Banda, a well-known activist, published a book “Live Free or Die” detailing how she found relief from Crohn’s disease after using cannabis oil. Banda’s primary concern now is keeping custody of her son. This because her son’s school contacted child protective services after he attempted to argue about the harms of marijuana during a classroom talk. Child Protective Services then removed Banda’s son from the school.</p><p><a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-watch/wp/2015/04/17/state-seizes-11-year-old-arrests-his-mother-after-he-defends-medical-marijuana-during-a-school-presentation/?postshare=5691429288089079" target="_blank">This story</a> may seem ridiculous to some. </p><p>The reality is <a href="http://womensenews.org/story/in-the-courts/140119/more-moms-losing-kids-in-family-court-drug-wars" target="_blank">this happens all the time</a> in our country and it is a lesser-known atrocity of the drug war. Due to mandatory reporting requirements, the staff at the school may have been under a duty to involve Child Protective Services if Banda’s son admitted marijuana was in his home. This type of blanket approach is rarely in the immediate best interests of the child and reflects the immense amount of stigma associated with illicit drug use. </p><p>The DOJ has funded <a href="http://www.justice.gov/dec" target="_blank">a national campaign</a> to protect “drug endangered children” since 2010 as part of National Drug Control Strategy. And despite likely good intentions, <a href="http://www.ladybud.com/2013/11/05/child-protective-services-family-court-the-last-gasp-of-the-drug-war/" target="_blank">these policies often play out</a> in a disastrous, punitive and discriminatory fashion.</p><p>While we fully support protections for child welfare, safety, and health, we also recognize there are current policies in place that assume neglect based on the mere presence of an illegal substance. These child protective policies are based on federal law and what happened to Ms. Banda is capable of happening in Colorado, Washington or Oregon, despite years of medical marijuana and now legal adult use in those states.</p><p>Parents should be judged for their parenting, not for what substances they use, medically or otherwise. Many parents have pain medications, alcohol, weapons, cleaning products and other dangerous substances in their home. If the mere presence of these substances and objects alone do not constitute child neglect or abuse, neither should the mere presence of marijuana.</p><p>According to the <a href="http://archive.samhsa.gov/data/NSDUH/2012SummNatFindDetTables/NationalFindings/NSDUHresults2012.pdf" target="_blank">Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration</a>, 82 percent of substance users in 2012 did not display signs of dependency or abuse of illicit substances. Even in cases where people might be classified as drug dependent or abusing, this does not necessarily equal neglect. People who use drugs are capable of being nurturing, loving, caring and responsible parents. Just as parents who drink alcohol or hunt deer.</p><p>On 4/20, Ms. Banda was in court fighting for her parental rights due to using a substance to alleviate symptoms of Crohn’s disease while others across the country are celebrating the substance. </p><p>The federal government should review law, policy, culture and practices regarding child welfare. The intersection of child welfare and drug policy is an area that demands more attention from drug policy and criminal justice reformers.</p><p> </p> Wed, 22 Apr 2015 11:39:00 -0700 Art Way, Drug Policy Alliance 1035238 at http://blogs.alternet.org Drugs Drugs Personal Health kansas medical marijuana child protection shona banda Colorado's First Year of Legal Pot Was a Major Success http://blogs.alternet.org/drugs/colorado-marijuana-legalization-what-changed <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">The Rocky Mountain State started legal marijuana sales a year ago. What did we learn from Year One?</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/colorado_pot_sales_under_a_microscope_by_david_downs.jpg" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> It will soon be a full year in which adults were allowed to purchase marijuana from state-regulated dispensaries in Colorado.<p>We’ve already passed the two-year mark allowing adults to possess an ounce of marijuana and use privately.  Some Coloradans have chosen to cultivate marijuana legally for the last two years.Other than these groundbreaking policies, what’s really changed?</p><p>As a Colorado native simply looking around, I’m inclined to say not much.  As a criminal justice reformer focusing on drug policy I know plenty has changed.</p><p>According to state data, marijuana possession charges in Colorado for 2014 are on track to fall below 2,500, down from nearly 30,000 in 2010.  Data from the National Incident Based Reporting System reveals that arrests for marijuana possession were responsible for 80 percent of all marijuana arrests in Colorado over the last five years. </p><p>Over the last two years, NIBRS data reveals a 41 percent decrease in all drug arrests in the state.  This drop can be attributed to allowing adults to possess, cultivate and privately use marijuana. </p><p>What else has changed?  The state’s once-tightly regulated medical marijuana industry is now a tighter regulated retail industry.  The medical marijuana regulatory framework enforced by the Colorado Department of Revenue was refined to tax and regulate the retail market.  As of October, Colorado brought in <a href="https://www.colorado.gov/pacific/revenue/colorado-marijuana-tax-data" target="_blank" title="This external link will open in a new window">more than $40 million</a> in marijuana taxes.</p><p>The bulk of this revenue will go towards youth prevention efforts focused on marijuana and overall mental health.  Already, we're seeing dividends. The early returns after a year of decriminalization in 2013 are favorable showing a slight <a href="http://www.forbes.com/sites/jacobsullum/2014/08/11/as-colorado-loosened-its-marijuana-laws-underage-consumption-and-traffic-fatalities-fell/" target="_blank" title="This external link will open in a new window">decline in youth use</a> rates. </p><p>Colorado also has seen an economic boost since legalization.  Colorado <a href="http://www.businessinsider.com/state-economic-growth-rankings-2014-8" target="_blank" title="This external link will open in a new window">is ranked as one of the the fastest growing economies</a>. The <a href="http://www.9news.com/story/news/local/2014/11/21/colorado-jobless-rate-hits-43-percent-6-year-low/19343021/" target="_blank" title="This external link will open in a new window">unemployment rate is at its lowest</a> since 2008, well below the national average. <a href="http://www.dailycamera.com/news/boulder/ci_27072010/boulder-planning-board-challenges-google-campus-plan" target="_blank" title="This external link will open in a new window">Google has received the go ahead to open</a> a state of the art facility in Boulder.</p><p>Also, <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-watch/wp/2014/08/05/since-marijuana-legalization-highway-fatalities-in-colorado-are-at-near-historic-lows/" target="_blank" title="This external link will open in a new window">traffic fatalities are near historic lows</a>, and slightly lower than what we saw in 2013.  I’m not claiming a direct causation to marijuana legalization, but marijuana legalization certainly has not hurt Colorado.   </p><p>Marijuana was essentially removed from law enforcement’s playbook of self-serving, ineffectual drug war tactics. Police have historically used marijuana prohibition as an excuse to intrude on the lives of law abiding civilians. The <a href="http://www.cbsnews.com/news/alex-landau-after-denver-police-beating-thats-when-i-expected-to-be-shot/" target="_blank" title="This external link will open in a new window">story of Alex Landau</a> here in Colorado is a prime example. </p><p>As a former police accountability advocate, I’m reminded that plenty has changed since ending marijuana prohibition in our state.  Police are now forced to change their ways and simply focus on whether or not there is imminent public safety harm due to marijuana use.</p><p>I’m most pleased as a civilian and father to discover that not a lot has changed. More importantly, the sky didn't fall as many naysayers predicted.</p><p>Colorado is being real and facing the fact marijuana is here to stay.  In doing so, we are establishing a public health approach to minimize the potential harms of marijuana.</p><p> </p><p> </p> Wed, 31 Dec 2014 15:49:00 -0800 Art Way, AlterNet 1029596 at http://blogs.alternet.org Drugs Drugs colorado marijuana legalization Colorado's Governor Wants to Spend Tax Revenue on Anti-Marijuana Campaigns http://blogs.alternet.org/drugs/colorados-governor-wants-spend-tax-revenue-anti-marijuana-campaigns <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">The first year of sales brought more than $180 million to the state.</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/weed_17.jpg" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><p><em>The following article originally appeared on the <a href="http://www.drugpolicy.org/blog/colorado-marijuana-tax-revenue-presents-chance-dream-big">Drug Policy Alliance Blog</a>: </em></p><p>Nearly two months since the historic start of recreational marijuana sales in Colorado, the state is getting its first glimpse at the resulting tax revenue. <a href="http://bigstory.ap.org/article/colorado-governor-reveals-pot-tax-spending-plan" target="_blank">Projections</a> for the first full year of sales are more than a whopping $180 million. Gov. John Hickenlooper recently announced his plan to allocate this infusion of cash in Colorado.</p><p>The governor requested more than half of the revenue for substance abuse and treatment, and for <a href="http://www.drugpolicy.org/protecting-youth">youth prevention efforts</a>. As required by the state’s voter-approved marijuana law, nearly half of the remaining $90 million is designated to the BEST fund that supports public school construction, primarily upgrading inner city and building rural schools. The remaining funds are parceled out between law enforcement, public health and regulatory oversight.</p><p>At first glance, the governor’s proposal addresses marijuana use from a public health perspective, especially its focus on youth prevention.  However, close observers worry <a href="http://blogs.westword.com/latestword/2014/02/marijuana_tax_spending_plan_john_hickenlooper.php" target="_blank">the public education effort could resemble the notoriously ineffective DARE</a> program (more aptly, SCARE 2.0).  The concern is that grants provided to school health professionals to deliver education within schools would favor the current prevention and treatment establishment.  This is a group of practitioners once dependent on marijuana prohibition for clients and likely dependent upon further demonization of the substance for educational and treatment purposes.  The end result is a biased approach that fosters fear over knowledge, and we lose the ear and respect of those we most want to reach.  Although less than ideal, this approach is preferable to using the revenue to criminalize youth or build <a href="http://www.thenation.com/blog/170007/gop-mogul-behind-drug-rehab-torture-centers-bankrolling-opposition-pot-legalization-colo" target="_blank">abusive treatment facilities</a> like those run by opponents of legalization.</p><p>The proposed budget often appears to solve a problem where none is likely to exist. <a href="http://www.drugpolicy.org/marijuana-legalization-and-regulation">Legalization</a> did not introduce marijuana to Colorado.  The market has simply shifted from the underground to rule of law.</p><p>How about we utilize this new revenue stream to begin building an infrastructure to address the entire issue of drug use and addiction from a public health, evidence based perspective?</p><p>We do see glimpses of a public health approach in the proposed budget, but then the excitement wanes upon further reading.  For example, money is directed toward intensive inpatient and outpatient services for mental health and substance abuse disorders.  But upon further reading we see marijuana users as the targets for this expansion of “intensive” treatment.  That money should help addicts on the chaotic end of the drug use and treatment spectrum – a place rarely if ever held by marijuana users.</p><p>Another example involves funds directed to assist with substance abuse and mental health services in schools.  Sounds great until we read grants are prioritized for those providing education on the harms of marijuana specifically.  Given where kids are at these days concerning their drug choices, why not focus on <a href="http://www.nbcbayarea.com/investigations/The-Law-Cant-Keep-Up-with-Synthetic-Drugs-244805391.html" target="_blank">education around synthetic drugs</a>?  Why not fund needed and proven evidence based practices such as after school activities and restorative justice programs?</p><p>All in all, I believe the governor’s plan provides some positive wiggle room to use the revenue from Amendment 64 to address drug use from a public health perspective.  As usual, the devil lies within the implementing details.</p><p>We have an opportunity to not just focus on potential harms of marijuana.  Evidence based practices such as treatment in the community for those addicted to more harmful substances should be more prominently featured.  Lastly, we need <a href="http://www.drugpolicy.org/sites/default/files/Safety_First_2012_Final.pdf">reality based</a> education for youth that focuses on <a href="http://www.drugpolicy.org/resource/beyond-zero-tolerance-reality-based-approach-drug-education-school-discipline">safety over abstinence</a>.</p> Fri, 07 Mar 2014 09:50:00 -0800 Art Way, AlterNet 967417 at http://blogs.alternet.org Drugs Drugs marijuana pot colorado tax revenue cash weed John Hickenlooper drugs war on drugs Why I Participated in the Trail-Blazing Act of Buying Pot at a Store http://blogs.alternet.org/drugs/why-i-participated-trail-blazing-act-buying-pot-store <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">The sky didn&#039;t fall when the Mile High City legalized pot, and the world is taking note.</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/bud_1.jpg" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><p>Retail stores across Colorado sold nonmedical marijuana to adults for the first time [last] Wednesday. As someone who has worked on reforming marijuana laws for nearly three years, I decided to take part as a customer and get in line.</p><div id="main-group"><div id="main-group-inner"><div id="main-content"><div id="main-content-inner"><div id="content-group"><div id="content-group-inner"><div id="content-region"><div id="content-region-inner"><div id="content-inner"><div id="content-inner-inner"><div id="content-content"><div id="node-4297"><p>Advocates, industry members and media stayed away from partying New Year's Eve to get up early to commemorate the historic day. We began at 3D cannabis dispensary at 7 a.m. with a press conference. We joined city and state representatives at Medicine Man dispensary later in the morning.</p><p>The atmosphere was reminiscent of a concert or sporting event. People who braved the cold stood in line and made small talk. A lot of people, particularly those over 50, said "It's about time," and told stories about arrests spanning decades for using marijuana. It was like a wedding or Election Night, with lots of picture-taking, hugs and congratulatory wishes -- except it was 7 a.m. and coffee and cocoa took the place of beer and wine.</p><p>I waited alongside three fairly young men who drove nine hours from Nebraska to take part. Behind them was a couple from Chicago who insisted their decision to go to Denver was not solely based on buying state-regulated marijuana -- but it played a significant role. Many others were local marijuana users looking forward to experiencing what only medical marijuana patients had been accustomed to in Colorado.</p><p>Once in earshot of the "budtenders," the conversation was fairly surreal. I asked for a strain perfect for after work, something to make me relax and help me sleep -- a Marijuana Merlot. I was told two Indica strains are solid sellers for this purpose: Tahoe Triangle and Ogre. Tahoe Triangle had a light pine smell; Ogre was more musty and pungent like you might imagine a hairy monster would be. I went with the Ogre with thoughts of Shrek in my mind.</p><p>The stores are fully backed by the state and local governments, and have been given a cautious green light by the federal government to proceed as planned.</p><p>Colorado voters approved Amendment 64, which legalized pot for recreational use, because they believe marijuana prohibition is more harmful than good and wastes resources. Colorado's previous efforts to decriminalize the plant -- remove criminal penalties for possession of small amounts of marijuana while it still remained technically illegal -- have already proven cost effective, practical and safe. According to the Colorado Center on Law and Policy, the amendment's decriminalization alone would save the state $12 million in 2012.</p><p>In the last decade, the state has averaged more than 10,000 arrests and citations per year for minor marijuana possession. The number of arrests has dropped over the last year to below 4,500, but this number represents high increases in arrests for public consumption.</p><p>Public consumption is a primary issue ahead of us. Using marijuana in public is still illegal in Colorado, and the Denver City Council has been engaging in a long back and forth to define "open and public use." The current definition isn't specific enough for the post- Amendment 64 era.</p><p>The proposed law in Denver would allow for open and public use as long as it's on private property with permission of the owner or lessee. Smoking is not allowed on city sidewalks, parks or the downtown mall.</p><p>Law enforcement rarely arrested anyone for public use before Amendment 64, when possession charges were the primary prohibition. We expect this number to stabilize and decline as law enforcement, decision-makers and users establish a culture of responsible use. Fortunately, use and consumption laws will soon be a civil issue in Denver, not a criminal one.</p><p>On the way back to the car after making my first fully legal and regulated marijuana purchase, I saw the guys from Nebraska again. I handed them educational brochures created by local reform advocates that provide various resources, address the effects and caution for consuming potent edibles, and generally explain the law. The young men thanked me, jumped in their Jeep with Nebraska license plates and Denver Bronco covers and took off.</p><p>The state is addressing potential harms of using marijuana with public education, safety and health outreach efforts. It felt good to put this new reality in action with cautionary discussions with the Nebraskans and others throughout the day.</p><p>Colorado is leading the nation in a new way to control marijuana, focusing scarce law enforcement resources away from arresting responsible users. It is satisfying to be part of that process, and it feels incredible to be in a position to promote safety and positive experiences for adults who are now law-abiding. They are pioneering an end to prohibition just by being regular people, standing in line, and behaving with friendly cheer and good spirits on the first day of 2014. The sky didn't fall in the Mile High City.</p><p>This piece originally appeared on <a href="http://http://www.cnn.com/2014/01/02/opinion/way-denver-marijuana/index.html">CNN.com</a>.</p></div></div></div></div></div></div></div></div></div></div></div></div><p><em>For a weekly roundup of news and developments in the drug reform movement and the injustices stemming from prohibition,  sign up to receive  <a href="http://admin.alternet.org/newsletter/subscribe?email=E-mail+address&amp;op=Subscribe">AlterNet's Drugs Newsletter</a> <a href="http://www.alternet.org/newsletter/subscribe?email=E-mail+address&amp;op=Subscribe">here</a>. Make sure to scroll down to "Drugs" and subscribe. Also, please check out the new <a href="https://www.facebook.com/alternetdrugs?fref=ts">AlterNet Drugs page</a> on Facebook. Thanks for reading!</em></p> Sun, 12 Jan 2014 16:31:00 -0800 Art Way, Drug Policy Alliance 946297 at http://blogs.alternet.org Drugs Drugs marijuana Legal Weed, One Year Later: Thousands Not Arrested for Marijuana, Millions of Dollars Saved http://blogs.alternet.org/drugs/legal-weed-one-year-later-thousands-not-arrested-marijuana-millions-dollars-saved <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">The voters of Colorado did the right thing last year. </div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/co_pot.jpg" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><p>One year ago, Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper signed an executive order ratifying the overwhelming victory Amendment 64, the nation’s first statewide vote to end marijuana prohibition. At that moment the personal use, possession and home-cultivation of small amounts of marijuana became legal in the Centennial State for adults 21 years of age and older.</p><p>The headlines over the last year have understandably focused on the implementation of Amendment 64’s unprecedented framework to regulate and tax sales of marijuana to adults. After all, Amendment 64 doesn’t simply remove criminal penalties; it creates the world’s first legal market for marijuana, licensing cultivation, processing and retail outlets. Reducing criminal penalties for possessing small amounts of marijuana does not alone address the inherent harms of prohibition – the enormous unregulated market, the unequal application of the laws, especially for people of color, and unregulated products of unknown potency and quality. Moreover, creating a state-based market for legal marijuana sales raised the prospect of a direct conflict with federal prohibition. That issue however was basically settled when the Department of Justice issued<a href="http://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/2013/August/13-opa-974.html" target="_blank">guidelines </a>in August that gave Colorado a cautious green light to proceed without imminent threat of interference by the feds.</p><p>In the midst of all the attention-grabbing focus on regulation and new tax revenue, we shouldn’t forget that Amendment 64 removed criminal penalties and increased personal freedom for Coloradans. A year ago the regime of marijuana prohibition in Colorado was forever changed. Law enforcement and judicial culture and policies adapted to the will of the people.</p><p>According to the <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/16/legalized-marijuana-could_n_1791448.html" target="_blank">Colorado Center on Law and Policy</a>, by removing criminal penalties the state has saved anywhere from $12 million to $40 million dollars over the last year. (Others have estimated the state spends <a href="http://www.cannabis-commerce.com/library/Miron_Report_2005.pdf" target="_blank">over $60 million</a> enforcing marijuana prohibition at the levels now legal, so the CCLP estimate is probably on the conservative side.) Over the last decade, the state has averaged <a href="http://marijuana-arrests.com/210,000-Marijuana-Arrests-In-Colorado.html" target="_blank">over 10,000 arrests</a> and citations per year for minor marijuana possession at the levels now legal in the state.</p><p>Because of Amendment 64 and the simple decriminalization of marijuana in the state over the last year, 10,000 primarily young adults will likely not be hindered by the collateral consequences of a drug charge. Noxious racial disparities in marijuana law enforcement will also likely decrease dramatically. In places like Arapahoe County, whose population is 10 percent black, African Americans comprised 35 percent of minor marijuana arrests. In Denver, blacks were almost four times as likely to be arrested for low-level marijuana possession, even though they are no more likely to use marijuana than whites. In the metro area, Latinos were twice as likely to be arrested for marijuana despite rates of consumption actually lower than both whites and blacks.</p><p>Nationally we average over 750,000 marijuana arrests each year -- something like one every 37 seconds -- nearly half of all drug arrests in the country. Almost 90 percent of these arrests are for simple possession for personal use, not sale or manufacture. Police make far more arrests for marijuana possession each year than for all violent crimes combined. Colorado has removed itself from this immense waste of resources, and life altering criminal justice consequences, that persistently defines marijuana prohibition.</p><p>The voters of Colorado did the right thing last year. They helped lead the nation to a new way to control marijuana, focus scarce law enforcement resources and increase fairness in the criminal justice system. We don’t have to wait to celebrate this New Year’s Day when legal sales of marijuana begin. We mark this one-year anniversary of hard-won freedoms and declare that Colorado has already won.</p> Thu, 12 Dec 2013 17:27:00 -0800 Art Way, Drug Policy Alliance 936145 at http://blogs.alternet.org Drugs Drugs colorado marijuana war on drugs Historic 4/20: Colorado Voters Have Chance to End Marijuana Prohibition http://blogs.alternet.org/story/155019/historic_4_20%3A_colorado_voters_have_chance_to_end_marijuana_prohibition <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">It’s time to end nearly a century of Colorado&#039;s marijuana prohibition, a policy that failed as badly as alcohol prohibition. The common sense solution: regulation.</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="/files/styles/story_image/public/images/managed/storyimages_1334771034_co.jpg" alt="" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><p>April 20, the quasi-official holiday for people who enjoy marijuana, is recognized by millions around the world. Those who celebrate 4/20 do so despite – and often due to – decades of out-dated propaganda about a plant that is objectively less harmful than alcohol. They do so despite our federal government’s stubborn insistence that marijuana is one of the more dangerous substances known to man and that it has absolutely no medicinal value. People who choose to celebrate 4/20 do so amidst intense stigma surrounding the event and marijuana in general.</p> <p>This reality will soon be on full display once again in Boulder, CO where one of the more prominent 4/20 events takes place on the University of Colorado campus. This year will have a deeper significance as Amendment 64 is on the ballot to tax and regulate marijuana. Amendment 64 decriminalizes marijuana for adult possession and opens the door for the state and local municipalities to establish a non-medical, regulatory framework regarding cultivation, distribution and sale.</p> <p>CU administrators have drawn a dubious First Amendment line in the sand by closing the campus to the public and threatening arrests. In spite of this, local activists plan to mobilize support for Amendment 64 this weekend.</p> <p>This collaborative effort will include full-page ads in multiple publications calling for the end of marijuana prohibition, educating people on the ground about the ballot initiative, registering them to vote, and even planes flying overhead with banners calling for an end to the overall drug war that is arguably built upon the criminalization of marijuana use. More than 10,000 people are expected to attend, including allies from the CU Law School chapter of Students for Sensible Drug Policy and the local chapter of the National Lawyers Guild.</p> <p>Young people are on the front lines of this war. They are disproportionately targeted for arrest and questionable stop and search practices. In 2009, 83 percent of marijuana arrestees in Colorado were under 29 years old. More telling is the negative collateral consequences regarding education, employment and housing many of these young people face due to a marijuana conviction.</p> <p>Activists are using this high-profile occasion to spur voters to action to end these ineffective, punitive policies. Colorado and Washington both have an historic opportunity to legalize marijuana this year – proposals to tax and regulate marijuana are on the ballot in both states. Proponents of these measures hope to limit the reach of the black market and organized crime by proposing a new approach to marijuana policy. These measures redirect limited criminal justice resources from policing marijuana possession to issues that truly impact public safety. Colorado, for example, currently spends <a target="_blank" href="http://www.economics.harvard.edu/faculty/miron/files/budget%202010%20Final.pdf">upwards of</a> $70 million every year to enforce marijuana prohibition, while forgoing upwards of $20 million in tax revenue that could be raised every year by regulating this commodity.</p> <p>Many advocates for reform point out that marijuana is less harmful than many legal, culturally sanctioned substances. The public health costs associated with tobacco and alcohol dwarf those of marijuana. Hundreds of thousands of people die every year from alcohol, tobacco and prescription drugs, while marijuana is far less addictive, typically consumed in much smaller amounts and has never led to a single overdose death.</p> <p>This year marks the 75th anniversary of federal marijuana prohibition -- one grounded not in reasoned, scientific analysis but in racial prejudice and politics. The first anti-marijuana laws, in the Midwest and the Southwest during the 1910s and '20s, were overtly directed at Mexican migrants and Mexican Americans. Today, Latino and black communities are still subject to wildly disproportionate drug enforcement and sentencing practices.</p> <p>The year 2012 also marks 95 years of marijuana prohibition in Colorado. Colorado first prohibited the substance in 1917 when divisive politics concerning long-time Spaniard families attempting to distance themselves from Mexican migrants provided initial political capital for the state to prohibit marijuana. This near-century of prohibition has amounted to a colossal waste of lives and public resources that waste law enforcement resources and enrich large scale traffickers.</p> <p>It’s time to end nearly a century of marijuana prohibition in Colorado. This policy has failed as badly as alcohol Prohibition. And the common-sense solution is the same: regulate it.</p> <p> </p> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-bio field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter-->Art Way is Colorado manager for the Drug Policy Alliance. </div></div></div> Tue, 17 Apr 2012 07:00:01 -0700 Art Way, AlterNet 670417 at http://blogs.alternet.org Drugs Drugs marijuana immigrants crime arrest police alcohol colorado pot regulation decriminalization arrests distribution weed campus mexican 4/20 university of colorado amendment 64 boulder