The group that passed the marijuana legalization measure in Denver this year is back at it again, announcing plans to take their cause statewide. From the Rocky Mountain News
The same pro-pot group that persuaded Denver voters to approve a measure legalizing adult marijuana possession in the city is now firing up a statewide campaign to place an identical initiative on Colorado's fall 2006 ballot. The group, Safer Alternative for Enjoyable Recreation, plans to hold a news conference this morning outside the State Capitol announcing the launch of the effort. The statewide "Colorado Alcohol-Marijuana Equalization Initiative," seeks voter approval to make it legal for people 21 or older to possess 1 ounce or less of weed.
Even if the measure passes, it would remain illegal for people to publicly display or smoke pot, sell it or drive under its influence. The group will need nearly 68,000 voter signatures to qualify for the ballot, but SAFER Campaign Director Mason Tvert said he plans to gather about 100,000 signatures.
First of all, people who are getting excited about this idea on both sides of the argument should slow down a little bit. Collecting 100,000 signatures is really hard to do unless you have a well-funded campaign that can pay signature collectors to help you out. Maybe SAFER is prepared and ready to go, but let's wait and see if they can really collect all those signatures in time.
The piece of this proposal that is more interesting to me is the repurcussions on other races that it might have, should they get their measure on the ballot in November. Youth voter turnout has always been low nationwide, and this is one issue that might actually convince young people to come to the polls; vote YES and marijuana will be legal is a pretty good carrot to dangle for a college-aged kid if you want him to come to the polls.
It has always been assumed that if more young people voted they would give Democrats an advantage, in part because more traditional conservative Republican messages like tax cuts and smaller government aren't as appealing on a widespread basis to young people as Democratic messages like funding for education and health care. If that logic holds true, a marijuana initiative could help a lot of Democrats get elected in November, whether the measure passes or not.