Marijuana legalization is back on the ballot this year. California voters defeated a legalization proposal in 2010, but now similar measures have cropped up in three more Western states. This time around, some of the most intense opposition is coming from the earlier pioneers of legalization — the medical marijuana industry.
In Colorado, Amendment 64 “would regulate marijuana much like alcohol,” says Howard Wooldridge, a retired police detective from Texas and a longtime campaigner for marijuana legalization. He has come to Greeley, Colo., to wave a sign for the measure. “This would free up precious police resources to go after real criminals, drunk drivers, etc., as opposed to wasting time on a green plant,” he says.
Colorado already has a big medical marijuana industry, but this amendment to the state Constitution takes things further. It would allow people older than 21 to possess limited amounts of the drug for recreational use. People would be allowed to grow the plant for personal use, and the state would be directed to license and tax marijuana stores.
The amendment is ahead in the polls, but that lead is eroding as it gets more pushback from business groups. “We don’t want to become the pot capital of the United States,” says Roger Sherman, who runs the “Vote No” campaign. “That’s not the image our economic development leaders want to use to attract businesses and conventions and tourists.”
Luckily for those business groups, Colorado has competition in the race to legalize pot. Oregon has a similar ballot measure, though it’s not polling well. Passage is looking likely, though, in Washington.
– Read the entire article at National Public Radio.