Colorado passes proposal to legalize marijuana

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DENVER — Colorado voters decided to legalize the cultivation and use of marijuana.

The “No on 64″ campaign told FOX31 Denver reporter Mark Meredith it accepted defeat and was thankful for voters. The measure passed easily.

See real-time election results here.

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 accepted defeat Tuesday night.

A news conference outside the Denver city and county building Wednesday Nov. 7, 2012. Supporters of Amendment 64 to legalize marijuana in Colorado talked about their election victory.

“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.”

During a news conference Wednesday, Mason, Tvert, a supporter of Amendment 64 said the measure will help the state economy be allowing marijuana to be regulated and taxed like alcohol. 

According to the Colorado Center on Law and Policy, Colorado law enforcement would save an estimated $12 million in the first year of legalization.

Oregon and Washington were considering similar measures.

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