06/04/2012 04:52 pm ET Updated Jun 05, 2012

Industrial Hemp Industry Leaders Throw Support Behind Marijuana Legalization Measure

The majority of California voters may not support pot legalization for recreational use, but one of its residents sure supports its legalization in Colorado.

Dr. David Bronner, the creator of the Dr. Bronner's Magic Soaps line of natural soap products, is donating $50,000 to the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana like Alcohol in support of Amendment 64, a measure that would legalize the recreational use of marijuana in Colorado for adults.

Bronner will hand deliver the check at a press conference Tuesday at 11 a.m. at The Alliance Center in Denver. Joining the Amendment 64 campaign staff and Bronner will be Eric Steenstra, president of Vote Hemp -- a national industrial hemp advocacy group -- and Adam Dunn, owner of Hemp HoodLamb, a Denver-based hemp-product retail outlet.

"Our nation's ban on cultivating industrial hemp is one of the most irrational elements of our failed marijuana prohibition policies," Mason Tvert, Co-Director of the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana like Alcohol and the group behind Amendment 64, told The Huffington Post. "We are proud to have the support of these successful hemp industry leaders. It will be invaluable as we continue to reach out to Coloradans to inspire the much-needed conversation about the many benefits of industrial hemp and Amendment 64."

Bronner, whose company features many products that contain hemp oil or use hemp fiber in their containers, described his personal support of Colorado's marijuana legalization measure in a press statement:

I support Amendment 64 because it would unlock the potential for industrial hemp to bolster the Colorado economy. Overall, the market for hemp fiber and seed products in the U.S. is $400 million annually. Sadly, because hemp has been caught up in this nation's irrational marijuana prohibition laws, not a penny of that money goes to farmers in the U.S. Our company alone purchases twenty tons of hemp seed oil every year! It's time to change that policy and I want to help make it happen.

Amendment 64 seeks to legalize marijuana for recreational use for adults and will appear on Colorado ballots this November. This will be the second time Coloradans will vote on recreational pot legislation -- state voters considered and rejected a similar recreational pot legalization initiative in 2006. But Tvert, co-director of the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, told The Huffington Post that Colorado has come a long way since 2006:

More Coloradans than ever before are aware of the fact that marijuana is not as dangerous as they have been led to believe and is actually far less harmful than alcohol. They have also seen firsthand via our medical marijuana system that it is possible for the state and localities to regulate and control the production and distribution of marijuana. They have read stories that quote law enforcement officials acknowledging that it has not contributed to crime or caused any significant problems. The environment here has changed dramatically.

Meanwhile, Colorado's U.S. Attorney John Walsh, continues his crackdown on the state's medical marijuana shops in what has become the most agressive federal action taken against marijuana dispensaries to date in the state. Walsh ordered 25 more medical marijuana shops to either move, shut their business down, or face criminal charges in March, because, according to Walsh, they were within 1,000 feet of a school. In May, all 25 shut down and Walsh warned of a third wave of letters coming to additional shops with his 1,000 foot boundary.

Although nothing in Colorado's medical marijuana law specifies the distance between a shop and a school, the decision, like most such zoning matters, is left to local communities.

The reasoning behind the 1,000-foot boundary stems from federal law, which uses that measurement in drug-crime sentencing. There are many dispensaries in Colorado that were approved by state authorities, according to High Times, to be within 1,000 feet of schools.

Pot, and the legalization of it for recreational use, appears to be becoming big politics in Colorado where marijuana dispensaries in Denver (400) outnumber the Starbucks throughout the entire state (375), The Denver Post first reported. So big an issue has pot legalization become that the measure's presence on the November ballot may deliver a boost -- or pull votes away from -- President Barack Obama who won the state by nearly a 9 point margin in 2008 against John McCain, but who is virtually tied with Mitt Romney according to recent NBC News/Marist polls showing Obama leading with an indistinguishable 46-45 edge over Romney.

However, as Reuters recently reported, it remains unclear how President Obama -- or Romney, if he were to be elected -- would react if Colorado voters do legalize marijuana in November. Both politicians publicly oppose legalizing the drug.

In Colorado, Amendment 64 recently received support from both Republicans and Democrats -- in March, 56 percent of the delegates at the Denver County Republican Assembly voted to support the legislation, and in April, the Colorado Democratic Party officially endorsed Amendment 64 and added a marijuana legalization plank to the current party platform.

The legalization support from both Republicans and Democrats appears to echo the findings of a December 2011 poll from Public Policy Polling which showed that a large group of Coloradans believe that marijuana should not just be legal medically, but fully legalized. From the Public Policy report:

Coloradans are even more strongly in favor of legalizing marijuana, and they overwhelmingly believe it at least should be available for medical purposes. 49% think marijuana use should generally be legal, and 40% illegal. But explicitly for medical use, that rises to a 68-25 spread. Just five years ago, a referendum to legalize simple possession by people over 21 failed by 20 points. On the medical question, Democratic support rises from 64% for general use to 78%; Republicans rise from 30% to 50%, and independents from 54% to 75%.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story erroneously reported that Obama won Colorado from Bush in 2008 when he actually won the state from McCain in 2008. We apologize for the error.

Below, where you can find legalized medical marijuana in America:



Legal Marijuana Across The U.S.

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