A ballot initiative in Colorado that could make the state the first to effectively legalize marijuana has an unlikely bunch of people very nervous: owners of the state’s medical marijuana dispensaries. Despite an expected surge in demand, some fear passage of the initiative, called Amendment 64—which legalizes the buying and selling of up to one ounce of pot at a time for customers over the age of 21—could goad the federal government into a crackdown on the dispensaries, ending their industry’s three-year miniboom.
If the amendment passes, the “best-case scenario [is] you get a million new customers,” the owner of one medical marijuana store in downtown Denver told Yahoo News. “It would be wonderful.” But he asked not to be named, spooked by the prospect of bringing attention to his store in case of increased federal action.
Both President Barack Obama and Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, who face off in their first debate on Wednesday night at the University of Denver—giving the state initiative the potential to reverberate nationwide—have signaled their opposition to states that flout the federal drug law with legalization measures. Because the practice is still illegal under federal law, the medical marijuana industry can survive only if the federal government turns a blind eye.
And if the amendment passes, Colorado—one of 17 states, plus the District of Columbia, that have legalized medical marijuana—would have the most liberal pot policy in the country, one that could bring in tens of millions of dollars in annual revenue for state and local governments. (Washington and Oregon have similar amendments on their November ballots, but Colorado’s seems to have the most steam, with polls showing more Coloradans are for the amendment than against it.)
Pot has been good to Colorado. Since 2009, hundreds of medical marijuana dispensaries have cropped up in the state, the second-largest medical marijuana industry in the country after California, and the only state where entrepreneurs are allowed to profit on the sale of medical pot. A stroll down busy Wazee Street in downtown Denver is proof of the industry’s success. Three dispensaries, staffed by friendly “budtenders,” can be found in the space of just a few blocks. They, and others, compete for the approximately 100,000 Coloradans who have state-regulated marijuana prescriptions from their doctors, informally called “red cards.”
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Learn lots more about what’s happening in Colorado at the original post, HERE.
[image: Google images Colorado]
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