Big moment for marijuana? |

Big moment for marijuana?

Andrew Harley

One side claims to be “troubled” by the idea of the legalization of marijuana, while a member of the other side calls the current laws “Draconian at best.”Either way, voters casting ballots on Amendment 44, which would legalize small amounts of marijuana, Tuesday will be deciding on a heated issue that burst into flames recently when Gov. Bill Owens and supporters faced off at a Denver rally.The amendment represents the only statutory change to Colorado law on this year’s ballot, so it’s the only proposed amendment that will not affect the Colorado State Constitution. This fact does not detract from the passion exhibited by members representing both sides of the issue.Mason Tvert, campaign director for the support of the proposed amendment and director of SAFER, or Safer Alternative For Enjoyable Recreation, headed up the drive to collect signatures to get the amendment on this year’s ballot.”The initiative is designed to remove the threat of arrest for adult marijuana use because we think adults, over 21 – of age to use alcohol – should be allowed to make the safer choice: to use marijuana instead,” said Tvert. “There are a number of positive health effects of marijuana, and they’re well-documented.”Beverly Kinard, the former director of Drug Watch Colorado and president of the Christian Drug Education Center, has been inspired to be a leading opponent to any efforts to legalize marijuana by the story of her son, who began smoking at the age of 12.Kinard, who also directs Guarding Our Children Against Marijuana, and her husband, David, a retired Denver Police detective, were asked for help by their son when he was 17.. He suffered a subsequent mental breakdown and was labeled disabled by his doctors.”I went to 30-some different cities in Colorado from back in June and July,” she said. “I first started working on this Dec. 29 of last year when it (news of the amendment) first hit the newspapers last year in Denver.”

Dr. Robert Melamede, associate professor at the University of Colorado in Colorado Springs, has researched free radicals – highly reactive chemicals our bodies produce as a byproduct of how we burn fuel – and DNA repair for decades.”What we now know is that we all make marijuana-like compounds, and those compounds help to homeostatically regulate and balance our biochemistry, and they do that literally almost everywhere in your body,” Melamede said. “Marijuana mimics the way our bodies normally work. In many respects, it can be viewed as an anti-aging drug.”Colorado Attorney General John Suthers, Governor Bill Owens and Lieutenant Governor Jane Norton disagree with Melamede.

“I am particularly troubled by the message of the proponents that marijuana is a safe alternative to alcohol,” said Suthers. “I think it is both a incorrect and irresponsible message. I am particularly concerned about the message it sends to kids.”Giving marijuana to minors will remain a felony. “The only thing that will change in Colorado if this initiative passes is that if someone over 21 is found to be in possession of less than an ounce of marijuana, they will no longer receive a $100 citation and Class 2 petty offense and will no longer have that drug crime on their record,” said Tvert.Tvert says that there are no laws against private use of marijuana, only laws against public use and display. These laws will not change under the provisions of Amendment 44.

Summit Cove resident Stan White has lived in Summit County since 1982. He has two children.”I think Colorado can be a better place to live by not lying to children … As a parent, I just cannot lie to my children. I will lose their credibility,” says White. “If we lie to our children and tell them that cannabis is bad, and then they try it and find it not to be bad while we tell them not to use hard drugs, then they’re probably not going to believe us.”It’s really insane that the federal government places cannabis in the same category as heroin and LSD,” White said. State Rep. Gary Lindstrom, who represents Summit and Eagle counties, supports the passage of Amendment 44.”I was a police officer for several years, and I’ve always felt that (Colorado and national) marijuana laws are Draconian at best. They virtually have no purpose whatsoever,” said Lindstrom. “I just think that the time has come.”Summit County Sheriff John Minor is against the legalization of marijuana and says he’ll uphold the law whatever the outcome.”I will follow the will of the people for justice with compassion,” said Minor.Vail Daily, Vail, Colorado

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