In November of 2000, Colorado voters triggered an avalanche of marijuana momentum that is has only grown in the ensuing 12 years. When Colorado voters said yes to Amendment 20 (yes, you can say voters were “For 20”), they made it legal for medicinal marijuana to be sold here.
The legal parameters set up in that law created the “medical marijuana dispensary” in Colorado and the concept of how one can qualify for said medicine. The long and short of it is that Colorado opened the marijuana Pandora’s Box and it has made Colorado the epicenter of the Pot Universe.
And if Colorado is the center of that universe, the holiday that celebrates its creation is April 20. That date has long been a day for marijuana smoking protests, but rarely would those rallies ever get big enough to stop traffic and affect business.
But April 20, 2012, is a far different situation. Not only has the day caused the University of Colorado to close its Boulder campus to visitors, but it will turn the Denver Civic Center into a rallying point that hasn’t seen that many people since the last time a Denver sports team won a championship.
Colorado’s designation as the center of the Pot Universe may seem harmless enough. However, at some point, Colorado will also become the center of the fight for full legalization. Being the center of that universe will not likely seem as fun or laid back as a 4/20 smoking rally.
Simply put, Colorado’s marijuana law blows acrid smoke right in the face of federal law, and at some point, there is going to be serious blowback.
When Colorado voters initially passed Amendment 20, the face of the MMJ movement was a sick cancer patient, trying to build an appetite after a grueling round of chemo. It almost seemed heartless not to make legal a way to ease their suffering.
Twelve years later, the face of the movement is a 22-year-old man whose only suffering that is healed with MMJ is sheer boredom. And because of how this law was set up, Coloradans will only continue to push the envelope.
With the momentum building, push will come to shove soon enough, and Colorado will be center stage. The federal government has already pushed back in small ways, overriding local authorities on certain policies, busting certain growers. But the real fight for full legalization will bring a far more brutal battle.
And that might be an uncomfortable fight to watch on our own doorstep, especially when we don’t hold the ultimate hammer. Because until federal law is changed, the bigger shove will always come from the federal government.
Colorado is getting accustomed to the 4/20 rallies, but actual full legalization rallies may be take a far different tone. Imagine if federal officials decided to initiate a major crackdown on dispensaries and inspire a more aggressive tone from pro-pot organizers. It’s also easy to imagine that since Colorado is the center of the MMJ universe, pro-pot folks from other states would come to Colorado to participate in protests.
It is also easy to conceive that politicians will be pushed into difficult scenarios because some polling show that 50 percent of Americans are in favor of full legalization. Anytime that the voting public is split 50/50, political leaders have a hard time determining how to come down on an issue.
As crazy and wild the 4/20 rallies may be in 2012, we may soon look back and consider these the good ol’ days.
About The Blogger
- Dominic Dezzutti, producer of the Colorado Decides debate series, a co-production of CBS4 and Colorado Public Television, looks at the local and national political scene in his CBSDenver.com blog. Read new entries here every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Dezzutti writes about federal, state and local matters and how our elected leaders are handling the issues important to Colorado. Dezzutti also produces the Emmy winning Colorado Inside Out, hosted by Raj Chohan, on Colorado Public Television.