Janet Perry, Denver. Any political issue has a full spectrum of interests involved, affecting its outcome. There are obvious players and interests, but sometimes to find the behind-the-scenes puppeteers we have to ‘follow the money.’ It’s important to scrutinize which players have profits in mind and those with the citizens’ interests as their priority. The medical marijuana issue is no different. As the elections draw near, some players in Colorado’s Marijuana politics are preparing for a final move in a ‘chess game’ where Colorado’s citizens have already lost a great deal, and outside interests are lining their pockets with Colorado gold.
The best source for tracking Colorado’s marijuana history is the Rocky Mountain News and The Westward. Local activist Kathleen Chippi talks about Colorado’s marijuana political history. “The Colorado Hemp Initiative Project (CO-HIP) formed in the early 1990s was comprised of about 150 activists statewide. Our goal was to educate the general public to the thousands of safe uses of the Cannabis plant. We had Hemp Awareness 101 classes at the University of Colorado for years. We ran a campaign in 1992 to legalize Cannabis outright for everyone over 18.”
Chippi went on to explain how local activists’ work was so effective that it drew ‘unwanted’ attention to Colorado. “The local activists educated the general public so well that when the ‘carpetbaggers’ DPA/AMMR–Soros, Lewis and Zimmer funded came to Colorado to poll the state about legalization, Colorado polled as a state most likely to pass legalization after California.”
When looking at who wrote the language for Amendment 20, we see the Drug Policy Alliance, hugely funded by billionaire George Soros. The Marijuana Policy Project is largely funded by billionaire Peter Lewis. George Zimmer, owner of the Men’s Wharehouse, is also a big funder of these organizations. The three men together keep these organizations going strong. The three billionaires are presented as kind elderly philanthropists; however, questions arise when the philanthropy goes awry. These ‘philanthropists also fund the organizations SENSIBLE and SAFER. These organizations and their paid lobbyists have participated in the writing and passing of Colorado MMJ laws.
Chippi continued: “So AMMR and DPA invaded our state with the Amendment 20 language. Local activists demanded a meeting with them before they submitted their language for title. We voiced many concerns (which can be found at levellers.org) regarding flaws and vagueness in the language. They refused to change the language and we ended up with the poorly written language of Amendment 20. All of the Appeals Court Justices said it was very poorly written language.” Chippi also told the authors that the language would cause problems later. Today, Coloradans have seen three pieces of legislation trying to bring clarity to the poorly written Amendment 20. The three pieces of legislation were again written by the same people and organizations, who are from outside Colorado.
Now, even more language is being presented to Coloradans in the form of Amendment 64. There are again problems with the language. Several lawsuits have been leveled at the authors and their campaign, which allegedly is misleading Colorado voters.
One Coloradan with a lawsuit against the campaign said: “They’re presenting a disingenuous title and interpretation to the people of Colorado. They’re using a title that the Colorado Title Board denied. It’s supposed to be ‘Regulate Marijuana.’
Corey Donahue was arrested at the Boulder Public Library when he attempted to attend a public meeting called by the proponents of the Amendment 64 language. The scene was video-taped, proving hugely embarrassing to the Library that the Colorado native had been visiting since childhood. Donahue had been quietly discussing problems with the language moments before hand when he was informed by A64 organizers that he could not attend the advertised public meeting. Donahue said it was important to take issue with an infraction of a citizen’s Constitutional rights. He felt especially strong about the misrepresentation of the language, and now a silencing of someone revealing this fact. He said this was why he was willing to sit his ground, be arrested and spend the night in jail. For him, it was a strong matter of principle.
Colorado’s Title Board told the initiative’s authors that they could not use the word ‘legalize’ because they were not legalizing marijuana. The authors themselves acknowledged in a Title Board hearing that they were not trying to ‘legalize marijuana.’ For this to be true the authors would have to be attempting to remove criminal penalties.
They were indeed adding more penalties to the Constitution, including MMJ DUID language involving immediate ‘blood draws’ for drivers suspected of marijuana use. This is the same controversial language that Coloradans had opposed in mass just months before. Indeed public outcry was so great that Senator Claire Levy pulled her support of the DUID bill that she had been pushing so vigorously. It was Senator Jeanne Nicholson who drew on her background in science to illuminate the problems with the DUID language and saw it defeated.
The Title Board also told the authors that they could not use the words, ‘like alcohol’ as this would be confusing to Colorado voters. With the Title Board’s words still ringing in his ears, Brian Vicente of SENSIBLE, Colorado, repeated the controversial and misleading language to this journalist by saying, “The public endorsement by the ACLU of the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana like Alcohol is a historic step forward in Colorado’s march towards sensible marijuana policy. With thousands of members statewide, the ACLU is the preeminent organization protecting the liberties of Colorado citizens and by supporting marijuana law reform, they are recognizing that the War on Drugs has failed and it’s time to consider a new approach to adult marijuana use.”
These are the very statements the Amendment 64 proponents were told not to use as they were misleading to Colorado voters. “The ‘regulate’ language allows for the possession of one ounce of cannabis for people over the age of 21,” Kathleen Chippi pointed out. “However, currently two ounces of Cannabis is merely a petty offense in Colorado, which means a fine of less than $100 and no criminal record.
A large proportion of marijuana arrests are of individuals aged 16 to 21, and our youth would still be susceptible to all criminal charges currently on the books. Our youth’s lives would still be ruined. I question how many people this will actually benefit.”
It is illegal to mislead Colorado voters; however, the Title Board does not have the authority to go after those who are actually misleading voters. That is up to the voters themselves. Corey Donahue, Kathleen Chippi and other Coloradans have filed lawsuits against the proponents of the initiative for misleading voters.