Opposition to Colorado's Amendment 64, a ballot initiative that seeks to regulate marijuana like alcohol in the state, has borrowed a page from California's playbook.
In a letter sent to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, Jon Anderson, an attorney representing Smart Colorado, an anti-marijuana committee, expresses the group's desire for federal opposition to the measure. The Department of Justice "aggressively opposed" Proposition 19 in California, a legalization push that was defeated in 2010.
"We respectfully request that the U.S. Department of Justice take a public position on Colorado's Amendment 64 as soon as possible," writes Anderson, "so that voters can understand the full ramifications of this state constitutional initiative."
The letter affirms a position taken by Ken Buck, a leader of the opposition and one-time Tea Party U.S. Senate Candidate, that this is a "profit-versus-people" debate. Anderson expands on this position in the letter to Holder, arguing a marijuana industry "will invest enormous sums of money to erase all state restrictions on growing, transporting, and selling marijuana" in the name of profit.
When Proposition 19 opponents in California reached out to Eric Holder in 2010, his response was unequivocal, writing: "We will vigorously enforce the [Controlled Substances Act] against those individuals and organizations that possess, manufacture, of distribute marijuana for recreational use, even if such activities are permitted under state law."
Reached for comment by the Denver Post, Mason Tvert, a leader of the pro-Amendment 64 movement, voiced surprise:
This seems like a politically tone-deaf request in light of the recent Rasmussen poll showing 61 percent of likely voters in Colorado support regulating marijuana like alcohol... Whoever is asking the Obama administration to oppose Amendment 64 must be secretly rooting for Mitt Romney to be elected president in November.
Betty Aldworth, advocacy director of the Campaign To Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, a pro-64 group, added in a press release:
The vast majority of Coloradans appear to be ready to end marijuana prohibition and replace it with a more responsible system in which it is regulated and taxed similarly to alcohol. Our current system of prohibition is the worst possible system when it comes to keeping marijuana away from teens. It is driving marijuana into the underground market where proof of age is not required and where other illegal products might be available.
By regulating marijuana like alcohol, we can better control it and generate significant and much-needed tax revenue for the state. We can also stop making adults criminals simply for using a substance that is objectively less harmful than alcohol.
56 percent of delegates to the Denver County Republican Assembly voted to support Amendment 64 in March of this year, and in April, the Colorado Democratic Party officially endorsed Amendment 64, adding a marijuana legalization plank to the current party platform in the process.
November's vote on Amendment 64 will be the second time Coloradans have voted on recreational pot legislation -- state voters considered and rejected a similar legalization initiative in 2006.
Below, where you can find legalized medical marijuana in the United States:
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