Colorado Marijuana Legalization Initiative, Amendment 64 (2012)

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Amendment 64
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Type:initiated constitutional amendment
Constitution:Colorado Constitution
Referred by:The Cannabis Therapy Institute
Status:On the ballot
A Colorado Marijuana Legalization Amendment, also known as Amendment 64, will be on the November 6, 2012 ballot in Colorado as an initiated constitutional amendment. The measure would legalize marijuana in the state. A similar measure was on the 2006 ballot in the state, where it was defeated.[1][2]

The initiative was filed eight different times with the Colorado Attorney General around the date of May 20, 2011 in hopes of making the 2012 ballot. All of the initiatives would ask whether or not to legalize the use and possession of, at most, an ounce of marijuana for residents who are 21 and older. In addition, all eight initiatives would allow the state to regulate retail sales of the drug. The proposal was filed eight times, with some differences, in order for supporters to see which one would pass the Title Setting Review Board, and allow for circulation of petitions.[3]


In 2006, 59% of Colorado voters rejected Amendment 44, which would have legalized the possession of up to one ounce of marijuana for those 21 or over. Medical marijuana is legal in Colorado under the terms of a bill signed into law by Gov. Bill Ritter, but some marijuana activists say that the time is right to expand the legality of marijuana to cover recreational use also.[1][1]




  • The Cannabis Therapy Institute in Boulder, Colorado, announced on June 11, 2010 that it planned to put together a campaign to qualify an amendment to the Colorado Constitution that would make recreational use of marijuana legal The campaign launched in support of the proposed initiative is[4].[1]
  • Brian Vicente, executive director of Sensible Colorado stated: "I think people in this state have come to understand that marijuana is not the dangerous substance that law enforcement and the federal government have made it out to be."[5]
  • According to Tony Ryan, a former police officer with the Denver Police Department, and who is helping with the initiative: “During my 36 years as a Denver cop I arrested more people for marijuana than I care to remember, but it didn’t amount to one bit of good for our citizens. Keeping marijuana illegal doesn’t do anything to reduce marijuana use, but it does benefit the gangs and cartels who control the currently illegal marijuana trade.”[6]




  • The group Smart Colorado is the main opposition to the measure.
  • State Senator Steve King stated about the initiative effort and possible ballot measure: "I honestly believe that when Coloradans go to the ballot box they're going to vote no to dope in Colorado."


  • James D. Kellog, founder of, stated in a column published by the Glenwood Springs Post Independent about marijuana legalization: "The Constitution of the United States guarantees that American citizens are generally free to make choices about their lives. But when it comes to marijuana and other drugs, we must tread carefully. Coloradans should ponder a simple question. Can our communities conceive an effective plan to keep legalized pot out of our kids' hands? Perhaps we should look to alcohol for the answer."[7]
  • Corey Donahue, a marijuana legalization activist, stated that the measure does not go far enough to legalize marijuana. Donahue argued: "It's going to have regulations, so it's going to create more rules. Regulation isn't legalization."[8]
  • In a letter written to the Colorado Attorney General urging him to oppose the measure, Smart Colorado Attorney Jon Anderson stated, "As you know, Colorado has the most expansive medical marijuana industry in the country. To further expand their drug profits, this industry will invest enormous sums of money to erase all state restrictions on growing, transporting, and selling marijuana in Colorado. It is critical that Colorado voters understand the serious legal and policy implications of passing such a dangerous law."[9]

Possible presidential election implications

According to reports, Colorado is a key state in the 2012 presidential election, and the marijuana measure could have broad implications in November. Reports say that President Barack Obama's and Republican candidate Mitt Romney's stance regarding marijuana legalization, regulation and taxation like alcohol could influence voters in Colorado.[10]


See also: Polls, 2012 ballot measures
  • A majority of voters surveyed in a poll released on August 11, 2011 by Public Policy Polling stated they were in favor of legalizing marijuana. The poll had a margin of error of +/- 4.3%, and the question asked to voters who were surveyed was: "Do you think marijuana usage ought to be legal or illegal?"[11][12]
  • Another poll conducted by Public Policy Polling was taken on the issue of marijuana legalization. The results of the poll were released on December 9, 2011. The poll had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5%.[13]
  • The results of a survey conducted by Rasmussen Polling on June 6, 2012 were released on June 9, 2012 showing strong support for the Colorado Marijuana Legalization Initiative. According to the findings, 61% of those polled support the legalization of marijuana if it is regulated like alcohol and cigarettes. In contrast, 27% were opposed to any legalization and the remaining 12% were undecided. 500 likely voters were polled and the poll had a margin of error of +/- 4.5 percentage points.[14][15]
  • According to a poll released by Public Policy Polling on August 8 of 779 likely voters, 47% said they supported Amendment 64, while 38% of those surveyed opposed it. The poll had a margin of error of +/-3.5%.[16]
Date of Poll Pollster In favor Opposed Undecided Number polled
Aug. 4-7, 2011 Public Policy Polling 51% 38% 11% 510
Dec. 1-4, 2011 Public Policy Polling 49% 40% 11% 793
Jun. 6, 2012 Rasmussen Polling 61% 27% 12% 500
August 8, 2012 Public Policy Polling 47% 38% 15% 779


2012 measure lawsuits
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See also: List of ballot measure lawsuits in 2012

Bruce v. Colorado Title-Setting Board

A lawsuit was filed on July 11, 2011 against the proposed ballot measure, stating that the proposal does not make it clear that taxes would be raised. Douglas Bruce, of Colorado Springs, filed the lawsuit with the state Supreme Court.

However, Brian Vicente of Sensible Colorado stated that the five-business day allowance to challenge the measure has already passed. A spokesman for the Colorado Secretary of State claimed that since the ballot measure language was revised, the legal challenge could move forward.[17]

Path to the ballot

See also: Laws governing the initiative process in Colorado

In order to qualify the initiative for the 2012 ballot in the state, supporters must gather 85,853 valid signatures by the August 6, 2012 petition drive deadline. Valid signatures must come from registered voters in the state.


The eight filed proposals were heard on June 1, 2011 by the Colorado Office of Legislative and Legal Services. Suggestions that the committee gave pertaining to the wording of the proposals included clarifying the state's medical marijuana laws and other references to it. Other suggestions included technical matters such as using both "ensure" and "insure" throughout the proposals. According to reports, more specifics about what the phrase "under the age of 21" meant were requested.[18]

Election Review Board

During the week of June 15, 2011, it was reported that all eight filed ballot measures were under review by a state election review board. Supporters of the measure will wait to hear from legal challenges before deciding on which measure they will move forward with and collect signatures for.[19]

Challenges were made to the proposed ballot measure language by marijuana legalization supporters during the week of July 6, 2011. Challenges included the accusation that comparing the drug to alcohol is flawed. There is no limit to alcohol purchases in the state, but the ballot proposal includes a provision that marijuana possession has limits, according to the challenge. Other supporters of legalization say that it is too much to ask voters to approve marijuana with no limits, hinting that it could fail if placed on the ballot.[20]

Signature collection

Despite protests from other marijuana supporters who claimed the measure is flawed, signature collection began on July 7, 2011. According to one of the petition drive organizers, Mason Tvert, the campaign is aiming to appeal to Republicans and older voters instead of those who are already on board with the proposal.[21]

As of September 1, 2011, the campaign to put the initiative on the ballot had collected 35,000 signatures, according to reports.[8]

It was reported on September 24, 2011 that supporters had collected nearly half of the signatures needed to qualify for the ballot.[22]

Signature gathering

According to reports, supporters of the initiative plan to turn in signatures on January 4, 2012. Supporters stated they would submit more than 155,000 signatures to the Colorado Secretary of State's office. Signatures were submitted that day.[23][24]

However, on February 3, 2012, the Colorado Secretary of State announced that the initiative effort had fallen short about 2,500 signatures. According to reports, supporters of the proposal have until February 15, 2012 to submit the additional signatures required to make the ballot.[25]

Supporters of the initiative turned in the additional signatures needed to make the ballot. Signatures are awaiting verification, but reports out of the state suggest that the approximately 14,000 additional signatures could help them reach the ballot.[26]

On February 27, 2012, the Colorado Secretary of State verified the signatures, placing the measure on the 2012 ballot.[27]

See also


Additional reading


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Colorado Daily, "Colo. pot advocates plan 2012 legalization push", June 11, 2010
  2. 9 News, "Marijuana advocates use Kush Con II as legalization springboard", December 17, 2010
  3. Denver Post, "8 initiatives to legalize pot seek spots on 2012 Colorado ballot", May 20, 2011
  4. Associated Press,"Colo. groups look to legalize marijuana in ’12," November 6, 2010
  5. Denver Post, "Colorado pot backers aim for legalization vote in 2012", May 19, 2011
  6. The 420 Times, "Former Cop And Judge To Collect Signatures For Marijuana Ballot Measure In Colorado", August 2, 2011
  7. Glenwood Springs Post Independent, "We must be careful with legalization of marijuana", August 1, 2011
  8. 8.0 8.1 Denver Post, "Infighting plagues Colorado marijuana legalization bid", September 1, 2011
  9. Denver Post, "AG Eric Holder urged to oppose Colorado marijuana ballot issue", June 13, 2012
  10. Reuters, "Marijuana initiative could make or break Obama in Colorado", June 2, 2012
  11. Stop the Drug War, "Majority in Colorado Poll Want Marijuana Legalized", August 13, 2011
  12. Public Policy Polling, "Colorado loves Hickenlooper, Bennet would rout Buck in re-do", August 11, 2011
  13. Public Policy Polling, "Colorado favors gay marriage, marijuana use, loves Tebow", December 9, 2011
  14. "NEW POLL: High Support for Marijuana Legalization in Colorado, 61% Say Regulate Like Alcohol and Tobacco," June 11, 2012
  15. Rasmussen Reports, "61% in Colorado Favor Legalizing, Regulating Marijuana", June 9, 2012
  16. "Poll: Colorado Pot Amendment Could Pass — And Hurt Obama," August 8, 2012
  17. Denver Post, "Colo. pot proposal faces another legal challenge", July 11, 2011
  18. Denver Westword Blogs, "Marijuana legalization ballot measures language not likely to change much", June 1, 2011
  19., "Pot legalization before Colo. elections panel", June 15, 2011
  20. The Republic, "Pot, booze analogy sparks complaint about Colorado ballot proposal on legalizing marijuana", July 6, 2011
  21. The Republic, "Supporters of legalizing recreational pot in Colo. kick off petition drive for ballot measure", July 7, 2011
  22. The 420 Times, "Colorado Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Signature Bomb", September 24, 2011
  23. GJ Sentinel, "Pot backers could get question on 2012 ballot", December 28, 2011
  24. Denver Post, "Colorado effort to legalize marijuana turns in signatures, tackles skepticism from female voters", January 5, 2012
  25., "More Signatures Needed for Colorado Marijuana Initiative", February 4, 2012
  26. Hawaii News Daily, "Colorado Marijuana Initiative Turns in Final Signatures", February 17, 2012
  27. Times Call, "Marijuana-legalization initiative qualifies for Colorado ballot this fall", February 27, 2012