Colorado Effort to Legalize Marijuana Turns in Signatures, Tackles Skepticism From Female Voters
If a campaign to legalize limited possession of marijuana in Colorado is to succeed, it will have to make inroads into skepticism by women, according to a recent poll.
Perhaps that's why supporters of the campaign put more than a dozen women front and center at a news conference Wednesday as they turned in about 160,000 signatures to put the legalization initiative on the ballot. Wanda James — owner of the medical-marijuana-infused- food company Simply Pure — said the showing was intended to counter "a misconception that young men are driving the legalization of marijuana and the cannabis movement."
"It's time for this change," James said. ". . . And it's time for women to lead the fight."
The initiative needs about 86,000 signatures from valid Colorado voters to make the ballot. If the secretary of state's office determines the campaign collected enough signatures, the measure would be the first certified for the 2012 ballot.
The measure would amend the Colorado Constitution to legalize possession of up to an ounce of marijuana for any purpose by people ages 21 and older. People would also be able to grow up to six plants in their homes.
The amendment would also allow for retail marijuana stores, regulated in a manner similar to medical-marijuana dispensaries. Communities, though, would be able to ban pot shops. Consumption of marijuana in public would not be allowed.
Colorado voters in 2006 rejected a similar legalization measure, 59 percent to 41 percent. But the current campaign's proponents say recent polls give them optimism that the landscape has shifted.
A poll put out in December by the firm Public Policy Polling reported that 49 percent of Coloradans say they favor marijuana legalization, compared with 40 percent who oppose it. Women, however, are less confident about legalization than men, with 47 percent in support and 42 percent opposed.
When California voters decided on a marijuana-legalization initiative in 2010, the last poll before the election showed women more against legalization than men. The initiative ultimately failed, despite having majority support in polls months before the election.
That result, said Denver pollster Floyd Ciruli, shows the Colorado campaign is starting from a weak position, as voters generally become more conservative on issues as the election approaches. But Ciruli said a well-funded campaign from proponents could change the pattern.
So far, the campaign has raised more than $100,000 — including about $75,000 from a national marijuana-legalization group.
Colorado Attorney General John Suthers, who opposes legalization, said he expects the initiative's proponents to far outspend its opponents.
"Given the amount of money the marijuana industry is prepared to spend, I think there's a good chance marijuana legalization may be approved," Suthers said.
- Article from Denver Post.