Colorado activists want voters to decide whether recreational marijuana should be legalized. Learn more about legalization efforts and the former Denver police officer who is playing a key role.
Blame it on the brisk mountain air: an enterprising pioneer spirit has long infused the Centennial State. Forward-thinking Coloradoans were among the nation's leaders in passing medical marijuana legislation back in 2000, and to top it off, they did it by amending the state constitution through a ballot initiative. But, is Colorado ready to outshine its past cannabis achievements by being the first state to fully legalize recreational marijuana use?
One former Denver police officer thinks so. Tony Ryan, a 36-year veteran of the Denver PD, has joined forces with legalization advocates to gather signatures aimed at putting pot legalization on the 2012 ballot.
Officer Suggests Regulating Marijuana Like Alcohol in Colorado
In his years of police work, Ryan endured numerous tribulations: he has been shot in the chest, had his head split open and was the lead officer at the Columbine shooting. During his retirement, Ryan is still tapping his extensive experience to take a bite out of crime in a field arguably just as dangerous as law enforcement: politics.
"Similar to alcohol prohibition, the War on Drugs only breeds crime, doing more harm than good," Ryan told Yahoo! News. "Not only that, but it's a huge siphon for federal money," he added.
As a member of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, or LEAP, Ryan dedicates a great deal of his free time to the fight for more sensible regulation of currently illegal drugs. On Aug. 3, Ryan took part in a signature gathering event put on by the new grassroots initiative the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol. The Campaign's goal: passage of a Colorado regulatory act that would make the adult use of marijuana legal and establish a system of taxation and regulation similar to that currently in place for alcohol.
Ryan and his compatriots need to collect approximately 86,000 signatures to put the legalization question to voters on the 2012 ballot.
LEAP Gathering Steam, But Feds Not Giving In
The support of a highly-decorated former Denver police officer and community reformer like Tony Ryan helps legalization supporters establish a foundation of legitimacy. The federal government, however, is not buying it.
Even if pot is officially legalized in Colorado, for the foreseeable future possession of any amount of marijuana will remain a punishable offense under federal law. Although statewide legalization would likely mean the functional cessation of marijuana enforcement in Colorado, pot users would continue living in the shadow of potential federal action.
Still, legalization supporters are optimistic. "Our state's voters have the power to strike a bigger blow against organized crime with this initiative to treat marijuana like alcohol than any amount of skill and dedication in the criminal justice system ever can," said former Lafayette municipal court judge Leonard Frieling in a LEAP statement.
Will Colorado legalization groups finally receive vindication in the 2012 election? Only time will tell. In the meantime, it may be best for Colorado marijuana users to keep the number of a Denver criminal defense attorney handy.
Article provided by Charles L. Fife & Associates, P.C.
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