Amendment 64 would place in our state Constitution a measure that would legalize the recreational use of marijuana for adults 21 and older.
The nation's decades-old war on drugs, and marijuana in particular, is a failure. It's spawned a dirty black market in the U.S. and fuels the violent cartels that are making Mexico, our friend and neighbor to the south, a war zone.
That said, we do not believe that using the state Constitution to regulate a recreational drug is appropriate. We urge a no vote on Amendment 64.
We have not fallen prey to "reefer madness," the overblown fear that marijuana will cause any more serious social ills than are caused today by the legal sale and consumption of alcohol.
As long as we are talking about adults over 21, we believe marijuana should be legal - and its use in various settings limited just as we see today for alcohol and cigarettes.
The U.S. Congress is avoiding reality by failing to decriminalize marijuana on a national level. Marijuana should be regulated evenly across the 50 states, and taxed for worthy purposes. Growers and sellers should be subject to a licensing authority and to inspections and testing.
But legalizing marijuana only in Colorado, while it remains illegal under federal law, sets Colorado and its local governments up for conflicts on many fronts. Cities and counties are struggling now to govern medical marijuana. Imagine what this type of Wild West approach to recreational marijuana would look like.
Because of federal banking laws, growers and retailers would remain in a shadowy world of cash-only deals, making them vulnerable to robbery. And sales to out-of-state residents would be highly problematic.
But our most strident argument against Amendment 64 is that it is an amendment. No matter how well-planned its policies and flexibilities may appear, there will be parts that just won't work. Yet the sensible option for state lawmakers to tweak and fine-tune won't be viable, as a constitutional amendment can only be amended by another amendment and a statewide vote.
If Amendment 64 fails, Congress should not misread this vote. It should, instead, be seen as a call to action.