Colorado voters spoke loud and clear Nov. 6 about legalizing marijuana for recreational use. “It's a bipartisan issue for both Democrats and Republicans, a signal that people are tired of the War on Drugs,” said Jason Thomas, spokesperson for LEAP, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition. “The vote is more than a symbolic step.”
Amendment 64, which passed with 55 percent of the vote, would allow persons 21 and older to possess 1 ounce of marijuana and grow six plants.
However, if the state were to gain additional revenue, voters would be asked to pass an excise tax, according to stipulations of the Taxpayer Bill of Rights.
For now, Thomas celebrates the victory while expecting the vote to be challenged in a federal court. “Personally, I believe the Supreme Court is the body that will hear the argument,” he said.
Former detention officer and marshal's deputy in southern Colorado, Thomas is among Colorado's law enforcement officers who joined the campaign to legalize marijuana.
“People respect police,” he said. “It's a real honor to be able to get out and educate people about something I've lived with in my career.”
With the vote on Nov. 6, Colorado and Washington are the only two states whose voters approved legalization of marijuana.
In a press release from the LEAP organization, former Seattle police chief Norm Stamper is effusive in his praise for Washington voters. “I cannot tell you how happy I am that after forty years of the racist, destructive exercise in futility that is the war on drugs, my home state of Washington has now put us on a different path,” Stamper writes in an email.
Stamper considers drug cartels and street gangs among the losers on Nov. 6. “And those who profit from keeping American incarceration rates the highest in the world,” Stamper writes. “For the rest of us, however, this is a win. It's a win for taxpayers, a win for police and a win for all those who care about social justice.”
With President Barack Obama securing a second term, Thomas is optimistic about the conflict between the states and the federal government. “I see him as more tolerant,” he said. “Romney once stated he would shut down the marijuana industry, whether the substance was legal or illegal, said he believes marijuana is harmful.”
While it's uncertain how Obama will react to the legalization vote, Thomas considers the presidential election a hopeful sign. “It's better to go with the devil you know…” he said.