Hickenlooper, Court Snub Marijuana Legalization Measure

September 13, 2012

TVERT: This is just the latest example of government officials skewing information about marijuana and deceiving the public in order to maintain the wasteful policy of marijuana prohibition

DENVER–Wednesday was a bummer for for marijuana-legalization advocates: Not only did the Amendment 64 campaign lose its blue-book challenge, but Gov. John Hickenlooper weighed in against the initiative.

The Democratic governor announced that he opposes Amendment 64, which would allow limited marijuana use for adults 21 and over, saying he worried about the possible increase in drug use among children as well as the blow to the state’s image.

“Colorado is known for many great things — marijuana should not be one of them,” Hickenlooper said in a statement.

Mason Tvert, spokesman for the Amendment 64 campaign, called the governor’s announcement “one of the most hypocritical statements in the history of politics,” pointing out that Hickenlooper made his fortune as a beer-brewer before running for public office.

“After building a personal fortune by selling alcohol to Coloradans, he is now basing his opposition to this measure on concerns about the health of his citizens and the message being sent to children,” said Tvert in a statement. “We certainly hope he is aware that alcohol actually kills people. Marijuana use does not. The public health costs of alcohol use overall are approximately eight times greater per person than those associated with marijuana. And alcohol use is associated with violent crime. Marijuana use is not.”

The governor’s decision to take sides on the issue came as a significant boost to the No on 64 campaign, which promptly posted the statement on the front page of its website.

Attorney General John Suthers has also spoken out against Amendment 64, but the pro-legalization campaign has grabbed most of the headlines with its billboards touting the support of suburban parents and evangelical leader Pat Robertson.

Earlier Wednesday, a state judge ruled against an effort to revise the wording of the argument in favor of Amendment 64 in the state’s voter guide, known as the blue book.

Denver District Court Chief Judge Robert Hyatt held that the courts lack the authority to make changes in the blue book, saying that the “judiciary may not substitute its judgment for the judgment of the legislature.”

The ruling means three sentences arguing in favor of Amendment 64 will not be reinserted into the voter guide. The result is that the argument against the measure runs 366 words, while the argument in favor has 208 words.

The Legislative Council mistakenly removed the arguments stating that, “marijuana is objectively less harmful than alcohol; the consequences of a marijuana offense are too severe; and the law enforcement resources would be better spent on more serious crimes,” according to the Yes on 64 campaign.

The campaign had gone to court to stop the blue book from being printed without the language.

“This is just the latest example of government officials skewing information about marijuana and deceiving the public in order to maintain the wasteful policy of marijuana prohibition,” said Tvert. “We are comforted by the fact that such egregious deception of the public will provide further momentum for our campaign. The public doesn’t like being deceived and many voters may end up voting for Amendment 64 as a protest vote against a dishonest government.”

The measure, which would also authorize the taxation and regulation of marijuana, is one of just three statewide initiatives to qualify for the Nov. 6 ballot.

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