Marijuana could be legalized for recreational use by adults in three states this November -- Colorado, Oregon and Washington state -- and following the latest developments on the ballot measures in each state can be a full time job.
So, thankfully Taiwan's Next Media Animation has summed it all up for us in an animated video featuring their signature deranged take on the news. The debate comes to life with a green-skinned pot superhero -- let's call him "Marijuana Man" -- a beer pouring Gov. John Hickenlooper, a walking (and flying) Coors can and President Barack Obama to help us better understand the issue.
While you're sort-of-but-not-really learning about the various marijuana ballot measures you also get a display of Marijuana Man's formidable superhero powers. Marijuana Man can burst through walls, comes packing with joints and pipes loaded with pot, breathes fire (to help light up said joints and pipes, natch) and does battle with what appears to be his arch-nemesis: a Coors beer can that tries to douse Marijuana Man's flames with its crisp, refreshing Banquet-style beer.
The hilariously oddball video isn't in English, but it is subtitled for your viewing pleasure above.
Colorado's Amendment 64 seeks legalization and regulation of marijuana for recreational use for adults and appears to be quite popular amongst Colorado voters. Several recent polls show that a strong majority of Coloradans favor the ballot measure.
However, the measure does have its fair share of critics and just last week got its most high-profile opponent -- Gov. Hickenlooper came out against Amendment 64, saying in a statement:
Colorado is known for many great things –- marijuana should not be one of them. Amendment 64 has the potential to increase the number of children using drugs and would detract from efforts to make Colorado the healthiest state in the nation. It sends the wrong message to kids that drugs are OK.
To which Mason Tvert, co-director of the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol -- the organization behind Amendment 64 -- responded with strong words for the Governor. "Governor Hickenlooper's statement today ranks as one of the most hypocritical statements in the history of politics," Tvert said. "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. 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."
Hickenlooper's statement that Amendment 64 has the "potential to increase the number of children using drugs" is debatable at best. A recent study from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention shows that marijuana use among Colorado minors is going down, while it is simultaneously going up nationally. The drop in usage by Colorado teens as seen in the CDC data -- a drop below the national average -- coincides with the same period that the medical marijuana industry developed in the state, between 2009 and 2011.
Marijuana legalization advocates point to the data as sign that regulation is helping reduce marijuana use amongst minors. Mason Tvert, co-director of the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, told The Huffington Post "that even the partial regulation of marijuana can make it harder for young people to get their hands on marijuana. By regulating all marijuana sales, we can further reduce teen access and use."
And a 2011 study from economists at University of Colorado Denver and Montana State University may back that claim up. "Medical Marijuana Laws, Traffic Fatalities, and Alcohol Consumption" by Daniel I. Rees, from UCD, and D. Mark Anderson, from MSU looked at state level data from the more than a dozen states that had passed medical marijuana laws at the time of the study. Rees and Anderson found that there was no evidence of an increase in marijuana usage among minors in the states surveyed.
In November, Colorado will vote on Amendment 64, Washington state will vote on Initiative 502 and Oregon will vote on Measure 80.
Below, where you can find legalized medical marijuana in the United States: