DENVER — Colorado voters decided to legalize the cultivation and use of marijuana.
According to KDVR-TV in Denver, opponents of the measure say that they accepted defeat and was thankful for voters. The measure passed easily.
A similar ballot measure was approved by voters in Washington State, while Oregon voters rejected a measure that would have legalized marijuana there.
Amendment 64 asked Colorado voters whether or not marijuana should be regulated in the same way the state regulates the sale of alcohol to people 21 and older.
The ballot measure is the result of several months of lobbying from pro-marijuana organizations who believe decriminalization could help law enforcement rearrange resources and staff for more serious crimes.
“We went up against 70 years of lies to keep marijuana illegal for evil reasons,” said Betty Aldworth, one of the leading spokeswomen for the Regulate Marijuana like Alcohol campaign. “And we took them down.”
“The voters have spoken and we have to respect their will,” says Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper. “This will be a complicated process, but we intend to follow through. That said, federal law still says marijuana is an illegal drug so don’t break out the Cheetos or gold fish too quickly.”
The federal government reacted as well, “The Department of Justice’s enforcement of the Controlled Substances Act remains unchanged,” says U.S. Attorney’s Office spokesman Jeff Dorschner. “In enacting the Controlled Substances Act, Congress determined that marijuana is a Schedule I controlled substance. We are reviewing the ballot initiative and have no additional comment at this time.”
Those against legalization argued Amendment 64 will encourage more drug cartels to setup shop in Colorado and also give teenagers easier access to marijuana. That group was accepting defeat Tuesday night.
“We knew all along this was an uphill battle against a well-funded national movement,” Roger Sherman, campaign director for No on 64, said. “We appreciate the efforts of Governor John Hickenlooper, former Governors Bill Owens and Bill Ritter, Attorney General John Suthers, Mayors Michael Hancock and Steve Hogan and countless other sheriffs, county commissioners, district attorneys and local elected officials who joined with the business community and citizens of Colorado to oppose this ill-conceived amendment.”
Pro-legalization groups believe decriminalization will boost the state’s economy with new taxes and licensing fees. According to the Colorado Center on Law and Policy, Colorado law enforcement would save an estimated $12 million in the first year of legalization.