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Two worthy proposed amendments

The ballot for the November general election will include two issues we believe strike to the heart of the well being of Colorado citizens, to the economic health of the state and to the future of our political and social systems.

Amendment 64 would legalize the use and sale of marijuana on a model currently in place for alcohol. It would allow for the sale of marijuana in licensed stores only, and would allow adults the freedom to decide whether or not they wish to use this substance. Other laws that currently apply to intoxicants — driving under the influence, public intoxication, providing a controlled substance to a minor, sale of a substance in a non-legal manner, etc. — would remain in place.

We advocate passage of the proposed amendment and we submit that support of the amendment is not a partisan position: voters from across the political spectrum see the good sense and advantages involved.

A September poll by The Denver Post showed 51 percent of those polled in favor of the amendment. Liberal, conservative, it does not matter much in this case. This is a matter of personal freedom; it is a matter of states standing up to oppressive federal law, of a War on Drugs that has failed at enormous cost in wasted human lives and money. A “war” has been conducted for 40 years that has resulted in no effective change on the streets but rather in the U.S. becoming the No. 1 nation in the world in terms of per capita incarceration. It has led to an ever-more bloated corporate prison industry and to the oppression of racial, age and economic groups.

Legalization is not going to flood the streets with marijuana. It would be hard to flood them any more than they are. It is not going to increase the number of youngsters experimenting with pot. The percentage of Colorado high school students using pot has dropped since the state allowed for the regulated distribution of medical marijuana — another farce worthy of the War on Drugs.

Passage of this amendment could benefit the economy, with legal jobs and possible stimulation of a wider hemp industry; it could add, according to CNN, about $18 million in taxes each year to state coffers.

Marijuana is less dangerous for society and individuals than alcohol. It is time we grow up and deal with it in a rational way, let adults make choices and find therapeutic ways of dealing with personal problems when they arise.

If, of course, the federal government will step aside and let states make this decision.

Amendment 65 is called “The Colorado Corporate Contribution Amendment” and it is a baby step in the direction of removing the strangle hold on our political system put there by big money and Citizens United. Federal, state and local officials no longer have the ability to control how much money goes into our elections and the sources from which it comes.

If passed, Amendment 65 would require elected representatives to pursue and support creation of a federal Constitutional Amendment that would put in place limits on campaign contributions and campaign spending. With the Supreme Court’s action with Citizens United, a Constitutional Amendment is the only feasible way to undo the disaster in the foreseeable future.

While we support passage of the amendment, we believe the only effective way to deal with campaign contributions and campaign spending is to establish a system of public funding of national campaigns. And to impose a limit on the time said campaigns are conducted. States and local governments should be free to act, as well.

Karl Isberg

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