A state appeals court has overturned the marijuana conviction of a Colorado woman who was sentenced and convicted for marijuana possession just days after voters approved a measure legalizing recreational marijuana in the state almost three years ago — retroactively applying the law to her case.
Citing a decision in a previous case, the appeals court ruled that convicted criminal defendants should receive “benefit of amendatory legislation which became effective at any time before the conviction became final on appeal,” the opinion, issued last week, reads.
After fighting against the passage of Amendment 64 in Colorado and publicly questioning the wisdom of voters in the years since his state made marijuana legal for adults, it appears the Gov. John Hickenlooper is finally realizing that regulating marijuana was a good idea.
And now this headline — “Colorado Gov.: Pot is ‘not as vexing as we thought it was going to be’ (video)” — tied to “Opening Bell” host Maria Bartiromo’s interview with Hickenlooper at the Milken Institute Global Conference, which runs through today.
“It’s all those young people coming, and they look at marijuana and say, ‘Hey we can drink whiskey, why can’t we have a legalized system with marijuana?’ If you look back it’s turned out to not be as vexing as some of the people like myself — I opposed the original vote, didn’t think it was a good idea. Now the voters spoke so we’re trying to make it work, and I think we are.[“]
Colorado-rooted legalization advocate Mason Tvert said he welcomes the governor’s new turn.
“It’s great to see the governor recognizes that regulating marijuana is working in Colorado and that it has many benefits,” said Tvert, communications director for the Marijuana Policy Project. “Polls show more voters support the law now than did when it was approved, and it appears he might be part of that late majority.
“Just about everyone who takes an objective look at what is happening in Colorado agrees that things are going quite well.”
More than 13 months after recreational pot sales first started in Colorado, residents of the state still support marijuana legalization by a definitive margin, according to a new Quinnipiac University Poll released Tuesday.
When asked, “Do you still support or oppose this law?” 58 percent of respondents said they support the pot-legalizing Amendment 64 while 38 percent said they oppose it. Men support legalization (63 percent) more than women (53 percent). And among the 18-34 age demographic, of course, there was more support of legal pot (82 percent) than among voters 55 and older (50 percent against).
The new numbers show a certain kind of progress for legal marijuana in Colorado. In the 2012 election, Amendment 64 passed 54.8 percent to 45.1 percent, and a December 2014 poll by The Denver Post found that more than 90 percent of the respondents who voted in the 2012 election said they would vote the same way today.
The report estimates that the total sales from a legal marijuana market would generate $56 million in 2016 and would climb to $107 million in 2020, if Alaska’s resident voters approve Measure 2 on the ballot next week.
The report was conducted by the same non-partisan group of academics and private researchers that provided the legal marijuana market estimates to Colorado upon the passing of Amendment 64. It now aims to apply the lessons learned from Colorado to Alaska.
Moreover, based on data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, the report estimates that there are 103,000 marijuana users above the age of 21 in Alaska, representing at least one-fifth of the state’s adult population. It is reasonable to think that a multi-million dollar legal marijuana market will take the place of the illicit market in years to come.
Advocates of an effort to make marijuana legal for adults and regulated similarly to alcohol in Arizona in 2016 have filed paperwork with state elections officials, granting them permission to raise money to campaign for the citizen’s initiative, according to azcentral.com.
The Marijuana Policy Project of Arizona initiative will be fashioned after the voter-approved taxed and regulated recreational marijuana program in Colorado.
Andrew Myers, who is affiliated with the initiative, said Monday the group will bring together a “diverse coalition” to help draft the initiative’s language, adding that marijuana advocates are closely watching Colorado’s program to determine what should be replicated in Arizona—and what should be avoided.
Representatives of the Washington, D.C. based Marijuana Policy Project, which advocates to make marijuana legal and regulated, said it will pursue making marijuana completely legal in Arizona in 2016 because such efforts are more successful during presidential elections, which draw more voters to the polls.
About 50,000 Arizonians already legally use medical marijuana. Patients must first receive recommendations from a physician and then are able to obtain a card from state health officials under the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act, which was approved by voters in 2010.
Any effort towards making marijuana legal for adults in Arizona is expected to be countered with stiff opposition from law enforcement officials.
However, Colorado’s Amendment 64, which voters passed in 2012 with 55 percent of the vote, attracted young and new voters while tapping into the electorate’s libertarian streak. There are hopes that Arizona will tap into the same demographic and successfully follow the example of Colorado.
Since Colorado voters approved Amendment 64 in 2012, and after the historic first sales of recreational marijuana began in January 2014, a majority of state residents still support legal marijuana sales.
According to the Huffington Post, a new NBC News/Marist Poll demonstrates that 55 percent of adult Colorado residents back the law that made the regulated use, possession, and sale of marijuana by adults legal, as opposed to the 41 percent that do not support the law, including 8 percent who said they are actively trying to overturn the current legislation.
The majority that are supportive of the law includes the 27 percent of adult Coloradans who actively support the law, as well as the 28 percent who are in favor of the law but do not actively support it. Among registered voters, 52 percent said they favor the law, with 26 percent actively supporting it and 26 percent that favor but do not actively support it.
“This is just the latest of several polls that reflect the successful implementation of Amendment 64, “ said Mason Tvert, communications director for the Marijuana Policy Project and key figure in the campaign to legalize marijuana. He went on to state, “Hopefully the folks fighting to maintain prohibition will stop using bogus talking points about Coloradans having buyer’s remorse. Nobody knows more about how Coloradans feel than Coloradans themselves, and clearly most of them are quite content with the direction in which things are headed.” [MPP emphasis added]
Moreover, other surveys have found similar levels of support regarding retail marijuana in the state. In February, for example, a Quinnipiac poll found that 58 percent of Colorado voters supported the legalization of marijuana. Another survey from March, conducted by Public Policy Polling, showed 57 percent of Colorado voters in favor of legal marijuana.
The success of Colorado’s implementation is paving the way for more states to follow in its footsteps. This November, Oregon and Alaska voters will be the next states to consider regulating marijuana like alcohol, and the District of Columbia will vote on making possession and limited home cultivation legal for adults.
Colorado could be sealing any past marijuana convictions that Amendment 64 would have rendered impotent. If Senate Bill 218 is passed, Coloradans could petition to have their previous marijuana-related convictions sealed if they would have not been crimes under current Colorado law.
The bill has bipartisan support and was announced Tuesday, April 29. The proposed bill comes with only a few days left in the 2014 session, but its impact could be huge, possibly giving thousands of residents the right to petition.
“There are tens of thousands of people with previous cannabis offenses that hurt them from getting things like loans, housing, and employment,” Jason Warf, a marijuana advocate and director of Colorado Springs Medical Cannabis Council, told The Denver Post late last week.
Sens. Jessie Ulibarri, D-Westminster, and Vicki Marble, R-Fort Collins, are the sponsors of the proposal, which is scheduled to be heard today by the Colorado Senate Judiciary Committee. If approved, petitioners would have to file in the district where their conviction occurred, and they would have to pay the court filing fees to have their records sealed.
The New Hampshire House of Representatives took a major step forward today, voting 170-162 to approve a bill that would legalize, tax, and regulate marijuana for use by adults in the “Live Free or Die” state.
Based on Colorado’s Amendment 64, HB 492 would end New Hampshire’s failed prohibition of marijuana and replace it with a system of sensible regulation. This is the first time any state legislative chamber has approved such a bill, so it’s great to see that New Hampshire legislators have been willing to evolve along with the shift in public opinion!
Next the bill will be referred to the House Ways and Means Committee. A second vote by the House will be held in February or March, and if HB 492 passes a second time, it will head to the Senate.
It’s been exactly nine years since MPP provided me with a grant to move to Colorado and begin laying the groundwork for a future statewide ballot initiative to legalize marijuana. All of that work came to fruition yesterday when legal marijuana retail stores throughout the state opened their doors to begin selling marijuana to adults.
I wanted to share one of my favorite pictures that I took of the first sale. This is Sean Azzariti, an Iraq war veteran with PTSD, who appeared in an Amendment 64 TV ad discussing his inability to legally access marijuana because his condition was not covered by Colorado’s medical marijuana law. As of yesterday, he can — and he did.
As I said during our news conference yesterday — which was attended by dozens of state, national, and international media outlets — adults are buying marijuana in every state in the nation. Only in Colorado are they now buying it in legitimate, taxpaying businesses instead of in the underground market. MPP is working to change that by passing similar laws in states around the country over the next few years. With your help, we are confident we can do it. This historic event is getting international attention.
Here is just one example of the amazing coverage surrounding the end of marijuana prohibition in Colorado:
The New Hampshire House will kick off its 2014 session Wednesday, January 8, by voting on a bill that would end the prohibition of marijuana in New Hampshire. HB 492, modeled after Colorado’s Amendment 64, would allow adults to use, possess, and cultivate limited amounts of marijuana with no penalty. The bill would also set up a taxed and regulated market for marijuana production and sale. Legal sales to adult marijuana users began yesterday in Colorado, where marijuana possession and cultivation of up to six plants has been legal since January 2013. By adopting the similar policy proposed by HB 492, New Hampshire could save tens of millions of dollars in enforcement costs and generate up to $30 million in annual tax revenue. In October, the WMUR Granite State Poll found that 60% of New Hampshire voters support HB 492. If you live in New Hampshire, please urge your state representatives to vote YES on HB 492!
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"The amount of money and of legal energy being given to prosecute hundreds of thousands of Americans who are caught with a few ounces of marijuana in their jeans simply makes no sense - the kindest way to put it. A sterner way to put it is that it is an outrage, an imposition on basic civil liberties and on the reasonable expenditure of social energy."
"I really believe we should treat marijuana the way we treat beverage alcohol. If people can go into a liquor store and buy a bottle of alcohol and drink it at home legally, then why do we say that the use of this other substance is somehow criminal?"
"The sole tangible way in which pot is a gateway to other illegal drugs is that it is illegal. The best way to end this easy path to worse narcotics is to legalize it and take it out of the hands of criminals and gangs."