Nearly eight years after Colorado voters legalized recreational cannabis, there are still some who want to see the state in the world of prohibition. A proposal for a ballot initiative that aims to repeal the part of the state constitution that says that cannabis “should be legal for persons twenty-one years of age or older and taxed in a manner similar to alcohol” was submitted to state officials in January. The proposal doesn’t appear to be worrying too many people in Colorado – but, it shows that there are some folks who truly don’t see all the positive changes that came with legalizing cannabis.
“We view this initiative as a deeply misguided and futile attempt to roll back a successful legalization policy that Coloradans firmly support,” Matthew Schweich, deputy director of Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), told Marijuana Moment. “This initiative would kill jobs, destroy businesses, deprive the state of tax revenue, and restore the injustice of prohibition.”
The initiative doesn’t attempt to make changes to the state’s medical marijuana laws or the laws regarding industrial hemp. In fact, it barely attempts to end recreational cannabis in the state. The entire proposed amendment is four sentences long and requires significant revising before it is even approved by the state to collect signatures.
The Office of Legislative Legal Services issued a memo stating that the group needed to provide the actual proposed constitutional or statutory changes the initiative would make. And it would only change the state constitution; the laws regarding retail stores are separate state statutes and would technically remain in place.
Even if the wording was revised and approved, the group would need to obtain 124,362 signatures from registered voters to be placed on the ballot and then a majority to vote in favor. Considering a number of recent polls show continued growth in support of legalization – with nearly 67 percent of Americans supporting cannabis law reform – it doesn’t seem likely this proposal will get very far.
“We are confident that Colorado voters would firmly reject it,” Schweich added. “But we will not be complacent. If this initiative qualifies for the ballot, the marijuana reform movement will make sure that there is a strong and well-funded campaign to defeat it.”
A 2016 poll commissioned by the Marijuana Policy Project found that only 36 percent of Colorado voters supported reversing legalization in the state, which is not nearly enough to pass this proposal. The chances that this initiative would even make it to the ballot are pretty unlikely, but that doesn’t mean that those in the cannabis industry and activists who worked hard to see legalization become a reality in Colorado aren’t ready for that fight if it came down to it.