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As the November elections draw nearer, the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol has decided to strengthen their efforts to convince the voting public to vote to legalize the substance for recreational use. With tactics such as television ads during daytime programming and a large billboard strategically placed opposite Mile High Liquors across from Sports Authority Field, the campaign is urging the public to reconsider the old stereotypes regarding marijuana and view it much the same as liquor is viewed. The Campaign believes that using marijuana is safer than liquor, as stated in their TV ad where a young lady is e-mailing her mother and claims that she feels safer around marijuana users. An attempt to legalize marijuana approximately six years ago failed when voters turned it down. Sue Rusche, President and CEO of National Families in Action, a non-profit anti-drug organization, believes that legalization of marijuana will cause more problems than it will solve. The Organization is not confident that advocates for marijuana will work to protect children from gaining easier access to the drug and feel the initiative is more focused on making money than protecting children.
Although the Colorado Medical Marijuana Registry started off in June 2011 posting strong numbers when it came to registered patients, the number of new registered patients began to drop as the year went on. By December, 2011 the registry had posted a nearly 50,000 patient decline. As the New Year began, numbers began to rise again and officials believe it is largely due to the drop in the registry fee from $90 to $35. Since December, approximately 12,800 patients have signed on to the registry. The majority of registry patients are men, at an average age of 42 and inclu8de 46 minors who have their registry card through a parent or guardian. Nearly 55% of all registered Colorado medical marijuana patients have a designated caregiver, which is a 2% drop from February of this year. The Registry also shows that approximately 500 patients were put on a six-month waiting list due to various reasons such as seeing a physician’s assistant instead of a doctor and the Colorado Medical Marijuana Registry is expecting an increase in registered patients once that six-month period has been completed.
According to sources last year, the Colorado Medical Marijuana Registry was in a severe slump, suffering from a radical drop in the amount of patients applying for a card. As of the end of January 2012, however, this slump seems to have turned around, posting an increase of nearly 3,000 patients. Most of the statistics remained the same though. The average patient age remained at 42, while women accounted for only 32% of the registry patients. The largest number comes from people registering someone else as their caregiver. There are currently at least 10,000 registered caregivers in the state of Colorado. Although the state experienced this rise in patients in January, they are still approximately 43,500 patients below the peak enrollment recorded in June 2011. Many patients have cited privacy concerns when it comes to renewing their cards, stating a dislike for the intrusion of their privacy regarding buying habits and quantities, while others had their applications denied and have been forced to wait six months before reapplying. The CDPHE stated that their primary focus during the next few months will be to process applications within the 35 day window rather than keeping the website updated due to the smaller number of people they currently have in employment.
In an effort to make the public more aware of Amendment 64 regarding the initiative to regulate marijuana like alcohol, the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol has posted a billboard near Sports Authority Field at Mile High. The billboard shows a young woman with a headline underneath stating, ‘For many reasons, I prefer marijuana over alcohol. Does that make me a bad person?’ This billboard has sparked a literal outrage in the community from those who oppose the legalization of marijuana. It is the feeling among this community that advertisements such as these are encouraging young people to choose drugs over alcohol when neither one is a smart choice. The Campaign was quoted in a statement as saying, ‘We are not telling people what to think. We are simply asking them to think. Many opponents in the community believe this billboard is in extremely poor taste and efforts have been made to see that the billboard is removed.
A recent proposal aimed at allowing people to be trained who work in the medical marijuana business has just cleared the Senate and will now make its way to the House for a second vote. The proposal’s intention is to train employees working in the medical marijuana business in Colorado in state regulations as well as how to spot fake medical marijuana cards. This training would be similar to training that already exists for the alcohol industry. The Senate vote, which was carried out at the end of March, was 24-11 in favor of providing responsible medical marijuana vendors. If the proposal should pass, local medical marijuana dispensaries will be allowed to designate their own trained employees and in exchange, could be given a break if for some reason they were to run afoul of state regulations.