Just when you thought the marijuana debate was dying down, there is a new debate about how to best implement Amendment 64 in Colorado. A group that opposes pot wants cities and counties to ban marijuana businesses. Pro-pot groups say taking such a step would put the public’s health at risk. Six months after Colorado voters passed Amendment 64, lawmakers are still deciding how to regulate marijuana.
“Citizens can actually have a say in this,” said Gina Carbone, a volunteer for Smart Colorado. Carbone, and others who oppose pot, lost the first round but now they’re fighting a new battle. “The commercialization of marijuana is a huge issue,” Carbone said. Smart Colorado is a nonprofit that opposes the retail sale of marijuana and products that contain pot.
“I think that’s concerning,” Carbone said. Carbone and fellow volunteer Diana Carlson say now is the time for voters who share those concerns to speak up. “Our elected officials are looking for that public input,” Carlson said. Small amounts of marijuana are now legal in Colorado for adults over 21, but local governments do have leeway under Amendment 64.
“It does give every city and county the option to ban marijuana businesses,” Carlson said. “There is absolutely no need for a product that is safer than alcohol to be sold by criminals in an underground market as opposed to a legal business,” said Mason Tvert, Executive Director of SAFER, a pro-marijuana group. Tvert says alcohol is more addictive, more toxic, and causes more health problems than pot. “And unlike alcohol, marijuana has never been found to contribute to violent and aggressive behavior,” Tvert said.
Tvert says banning the commercial sale of pot would be a big mistake. “The folks who are opposed to that are really putting old people and young people alike at-risk,” Tvert said. Those who oppose marijuana say the real risk is the drug’s increased potency and accessibility to young people. “We encourage as many citizens as possible to have their voices heard,” Carlson said. Both sides of this marijuana debate know the battle is far from over.
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