Nation watches as Coloradans vote on whether to legalize marijuana

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DENVER – As voters head to the polls to decide whether or not to legalize marijuana, law enforcement groups are issuing a warning to Coloradans that legalization could result in negative long term consequences.

Amendment 64 asks 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.

“These reefer madness scare tactics are designed for no purpose but to bestow fear in the minds of Coloradans," said Betty Aldworth, with the campaign to regulate marijuana like alcohol.

Ahead of the election, television ads have featured former law enforcement officers encouraging legalization. However, not every cop agrees that legalization will result in crime prevention and fewer arrests.

Click here to the view that ad:

"Transnational drug trafficking groups exist in Colorado now and they'll continue to exist, the question is will they flourish?" said Sgt. Jim Gerhardt with the North Metro Drug Task Force.

Those against legalization argue if the amendment is passed, A64 will encourage more drug cartels to setup shop in Colorado and also give teenagers easier access to marijuana.

"It will take off even more layers of deterrent from growing marijuana, using, selling marijuana," added Gerhardt.

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 twelve million dollars in the first year of legalization.

Despite the legalization campaign’s efforts, high profile lawmakers including Governor John Hickenlooper and Attorney General John Suthers have opposed the measure.

Below is the Amendment 64 text voters will see on the initiative:

Shall there be an amendment to the Colorado
constitution concerning marijuana, and, in
connection therewith, providing for the regulation of
marijuana; permitting a person twenty-one years of
age or older to consume or possess limited
amounts of marijuana; providing for the licensing of
cultivation facilities, product manufacturing facilities,
testing facilities, and retail stores; permitting local
governments to regulate or prohibit such facilities;
requiring the general assembly to enact an excise
tax to be levied upon wholesale sales of marijuana;
requiring that the first $40 million in revenue raised
annually by such tax be credited to the public
school capital construction assistance fund; and
requiring the general assembly to enact legislation
governing the cultivation, processing, and sale of
industrial hemp?

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