Legislative Council Members Take Advantage of Colleagues' Misunderstanding and Remove Strongest 'Arguments For' Amendment 64 From Blue Book

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Legislative Council Members Take Advantage of Colleagues' Misunderstanding and Remove Strongest 'Arguments For' Amendment 64 From Blue Book

At least six committee members believe multiple sentences were wrongfully removed

Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol has asked Legislative Council Staff to make the correction

SEPTEMBER 7, 2012 – DENVER – At a hearing Wednesday, a minority of the Colorado Legislative Council Committee knowingly and intentionally took advantage of a misunderstanding in order to permanently omit from the state's voter guide some of the strongest arguments in favor of Amendment 64, the initiative to regulate marijuana like alcohol.

Read a detailed account of the situation at http://www.regulatemarijuana.org/blue-book.

State law requires the guide, known as the "blue book," to include the major arguments in support of each state issue that will appear on the ballot. However, the Legislative Council removed the sentences conveying three of the proponents' primary arguments in support of the initiative – marijuana is objectively less harmful than alcohol; the consequences of a marijuana offense are too severe; and law enforcement resources would be better spent on more serious crimes. The deleted arguments were included in the final draft prepared before the hearing by the Legislative Council Staff, following an extensive process of review and comment over the course of the past three months.

In summary, Sen. Mark Scheffel made a motion to amend the first of three paragraphs in the "Arguments For" section of the blue book, and it was approved unanimously by the Council. A short time later, members realized the motion had deleted the last three sentences of the five-sentence paragraph, whereas they thought it would only remove a few words from the first two sentences. To rectify the mistake, Rep. Mark Ferrandino made a motion to reinsert the three sentences, and it was seconded by Rep. Lois Court. The Council voted 8-5 in support of the motion (according to Council Chair, Rep. Frank McNulty; it is now being reported as 6-7), but it failed because it did not receive the two-thirds vote required to modify the draft. As a result, the key arguments in support of Amendment 64 were deleted without true two-thirds support.

The Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol has formally requested that the Legislative Council Staff review the audio recording of the hearing, which clearly indicates that there was confusion about Sen. Scheffel's motion and that two-thirds of the Committee did not intend to remove the final three sentences from the staff-prepared draft, and we have asked that they reinsert those sentences when finalizing the language that will appear in the blue book.

Listen to the audio recording of the hearing and read a detailed account at http://www.regulatemarijuana.org/blue-book (audio at bottom of page).

Statement from Brian Vicente, co-director of the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol:

"The blue book process should be based on a good faith effort to provide objective and balanced information to the voters. With the action, members of the Legislative Council have knowingly and intentionally taken advantage of a misunderstanding in order to permanently omit some of the strongest arguments in favor of the initiative from the blue book. In particular, it removed the only sentences conveying that marijuana is objectively less harmful than alcohol and that law enforcement resources would be better spent on more serious crimes.

"We are not looking for special treatment. We simply want the Legislative Council Staff to correct this error before the language is finalized and sent to two million voters.

"We have come to expect dirty tricks and deception from our opponents, such as the No on 64 campaign's repeated lies about the effect of the amendment on employer drug-testing policies – the truth is that they would not be affected – but we expect more from our elected officials."

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