Colorado Legalization Opponents Sneakily Omit Portions of Materials to Voters
Published on Sep 10, 2012
Proponents of a measure to legalize limited possession of marijuana say they have filed a lawsuit to delay the printing of this year's ballot- information booklet. The booklet, known as the blue book, is sent to every voter in Colorado and provides details on the initiatives on the ballot.
Proponents of the marijuana-legalization measure, Amendment 64, argue that a legislative committee underhandedly struck from the blue book's final draft key language in the section describing arguments in favor of the initiative. Several lawmakers didn't realize they were voting to excise the language, the amendment's proponents said.
It takes a super-majority of lawmakers on the committee to make changes to the blue book.
"It's really just incredibly unfair," said Mason Tvert, one of the leaders of the pro-marijuana campaign. "It's beyond unfair."
Tvert said the blue book was to be sent to the printer this week. Instead, Tvert said, initiative proponents will have a court hearing as early as Monday to ask a judge to delay the printing and restore the contested language.
The contentious editing took place Wednesday at a meeting of the Legislative Council Committee, which gives the final sign-off on the blue book's contents. After testimony from initiative opponents, Sen. Mark Scheffel, R-Parker, expressed reservations about language in two parts of Argument No. 1 in favor of the initiative.
Scheffel said he objected to language in the first half of the argument that said marijuana legalization is a "more logical" approach. He also objected to language in the second half of the argument that stated marijuana is safer than alcohol and that penalties for marijuana crimes are too severe.
His initial attempt to strike both sections of Argument No. 1 failed. Trying again later in the meeting, Scheffel said lawmakers should split up the debate about the contested language in the two halves of Argument 1.
"You're trying to make two different arguments?" asked Rep. Lois Court, D-Denver.
"Correct," Scheffel said. "I'm just trying to divide this so we can tackle this paragraph in two parts."
Scheffel's subsequent motion, though, deleted both sections of Argument No. 1. That motion passed unanimously. Some lawmakers said they expected Scheffel to make a second motion to restore modified language about marijuana being safer than alcohol.
"I thought we were then going to go ahead and fix the next couple of sentences," Court said during the meeting.
Scheffel said that wasn't his intention.
Scheffel could not be reached for comment.
Rep. Mark Ferrandino, who did not want to delete the language, said he does not believe Scheffel was trying to pull a fast one. Still, Ferrandino was disappointed with the outcome.
"I don't think he was trying to cause confusion," said Ferrandino, D-Denver. "But it did cause confusion."