This November the voters in Colorado will be asked to make a decision concerning the legalization of marijuana. This constitutional amendment would make Colorado the first and only state to do this. I want you to imagine Colorado with legalized recreational marijuana and the people this will attract who openly smoke local legally grown pot.
As sheriff, I believe that the increase in criminal activity will be significant. I also believe that taking into consideration recent and past elections, the voters of Montezuma County concur, legalizing marijuana in any form is not in our or our youths best interest.
Some facts taken from a bulletin provided by Healthy and Drug Free Colorado I would like you to be aware of:
This is a constitutional amendment providing certain rights with few restrictions. Since it is a constitutional amendment, the Colorado legislature is limited in implementing regulations.
Colorados marijuana laws would be more liberal than the Netherlands which has become more restrictive by shutting down 37 percent of its coffee houses (marijuana clubs), restricting them in red light areas and prohibiting tourists from visiting coffee houses. Preliminary research indicates that Colorados marijuana laws would be the most liberal in the world.
There are no limits on how much a marijuana retail store could stock or how many plants a cultivation facility could grow.
There are no residency requirements, so out-of-state dealers and users could buy their marijuana legally from Colorado.
The amendment does not prohibit opening private marijuana clubs where people could use marijuana in a club-type setting.
Organized crime and drug cartels could use front people in order to cultivate unlimited amounts of marijuana and then distribute it from Colorado rather than across the border.
There is no way to control the diversion of marijuana out of state or to the youth. Colorado would most likely become the primary source state for the other 49 states in our country where it is illegal.
Even if cities or counties pass an ordinance banning licensed facilities, individuals could join together and form a co-op to exceed the six plant limit per individual. They could even grow in a residential area as a constitutional right.
There is no funding to create a regulatory body to oversee provisions of the amendment for retail stores, cultivation sites, testing facilities, or infusion centers, much less unregulated grow operations or the separately-regulated hemp industry called for in the amendment.
There are not sufficient police officers in the state to effectively prevent the diversion of marijuana to youth, other states or to prevent organized crime from getting a foothold in Colorado because of the potential profits involved.
I am proud that Colorado is known around the world as the state with the beautiful mountains, excellent hunting and fishing, snow skiing and outdoor activities that are second to none. I would hate for Colorado to gain the reputation as the Stoner State. When I vote in November I will be voting against the legalization of marijuana.
Dennis Spruell is sheriff of Montezuma County.