Sunday, September 17, 2006

Little blue book o' lies

Been so wrapped up in PeaceJam I forgot to post about the latest governmental malfeasance and skulduggery around Amendment 44, the Colorado constitutional initiative that would make possession of up to an ounce of pot legal statewide.

A couple of weeks ago it was a federal DEA agent's e-mail to PR types, asking if they'd be interested in managing a campaign against Amendment 44--a campaign for which, he said, he'd already collected $10,000. (What happened to that effort, anyway? And to the $10,000? Heck, since we're asking questions, where did that $10,000 (smallish, but a fine, round number) come from in the first place? Nobody seems to have asked.).

This month it's the Colorado Legislative Council quite consciously misleading every voter in the state about the amendment. In an editorial with far too many sentences ending in question marks (and unaccompanied, as far as I could tell, by a news story), the News asked Friday:

How would you react to a ballot measure allowing an adult to give "up to one ounce of marijuana to another individual 15 years of age or older as long as there is no compensation, although possession for those under 21 years of age would remain illegal"?

You'd consider the measure for two seconds or less, declare it insane, and decide on the spot to vote against it. Right?

Legalize the act of plying kids with drugs?

Who authored such madness?

No one, as it happens. But you wouldn't know it if you only read the state's Blue Book, which is the pamphlet that goes out to all registered voters and explains this year's ballot initiatives.

That misleading line about transferring marijuana to juveniles happens to be included in the final draft of the pamphlet's discussion of Amendment 44 . . . .

[T]hanks to this Blue Book blunder, the task for Amendment 44 backers may be infinitely more difficult.

Did we say blunder? Strike that: The line was deliberately placed in the Blue Book and is defended to this day by the Legislative Council as a legitimate interpretation.

House Speaker Andrew Romanoff told us "every single word" of the controversial line "is true" because "it is accurate in terms of the laws on possession of marijuana."

Which is absolute bull, of course:
Romanoff says this because state law makes it a felony to give anyone under 15 marijuana, and that law would remain in place if Amendment 44 passes. And since there is no explicit prohibition against transferring pot to anyone older, the council felt justified in maintaining that an adult could give "up to one ounce of marijuana to another individual 15 years of age or older" under the amendment.
They're so freaked out (man), they're willing to tell a flat-out lie.

[T]he clear implication of that statement - that the amendment decriminalizes such transfers, at least insofar as the state is concerned - is simply false. It is a crime in Colorado to help any juvenile break any federal or state law, and under both federal and state law it will continue to be illegal for minors to possess marijuana even if Amendment 44 is approved. So someone giving a minor marijuana would be breaking the law as well.

And guess what!

Sponsors of Amendment 44 tried to have the offending language struck this week in court, but a Denver judge said he had no authority to do so. We understand the judge's reluctance to meddle in a legislative prerogative, but the result is that voters will be misled. And that's simply not right, whatever your opinion of the merits of Amendment 44.

So okay, they're willing to stoop pretty low to defeat 44. But like a novice actor I have to ask, What's their motivation? Romanoff (a Democrat) seems to purely hate the amendment. Does he have a moral reason, or is it just too "far out?" Does he fear that Colorado will have to change it's nickname from "Hate State" to "Pothead State?" Will we lose federal money? Will the young be corrupted? More than they already are? What the devil is going on around here?


Update: Jeralyn Merritt doesn't add anything new, but does so in a lawyerly manner on 5280's blog.

Update II: The Rocky did have a story on the court ruling; it just got lost in their rotten search functionations.

Update III: The SAFER blog (where I found the Rocky story) is covering the Blue Book fiasco like, like--like a hippie with the munchies on a can of tofu cocktail weenies.


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