Shane Tara, owner of the Colorado Patient Coalition in Federal Heights, waters medical-marijuana plants at her facility. Activists who worked for legalization of recreational cannabis in Colorado have created a model for other states. (Kristin Morin, Denver Post file)
- Sep 9:
- Long line, but no hassles for free pot giveaway at Civic Center
- Sep 3:
- More Colorado pot is flowing to neighboring states, officials say
- Aug 29:
- Federal government won't block Colorado marijuana legalization
- Aug 28:
- Federal agency orders armored-car service to stop serving legal marijuana sellers
- Aug 27:
- Colorado: Ingresar a sector de marihuana será caro
- Aug 26:
- Denver council defies mayor and chooses 3.5 percent tax on retail pot
- Jul 30:
- Denver DA's version of violent medical marijuana industry questioned
- Apr 25:
- Colorado appeals court OKs firing for off-duty marijuana use
- Apr 24:
- Denver's 4/20 permit questioned after organizers were given free use of Civic Center Park
- Apr 20:
- Two shot at Denver's Civic Center 4/20 pot rally
- Apr 19:
- Denver pot holiday bringing crowds, tight security
- Mar 5:
- Ex-DEA heads: Feds should nullify state pot laws
- Feb 28:
- Pot task force recommends special marijuana sales, excise taxes
- Feb 19:
- Colorado marijuana task force recommends allowing pot tourism
- Marijuana potency, tourism up for CO debate
- Feb 12:
- Marijuana legalization raises safety questions
- Feb 11:
- Denver City Council to vote in April whether to opt out on marijuana
- Feb 10:
- THC University in Denver holds first class on how to grow pot
- Studies shed more light on debate around marijuana-impaired driving
- Feb 5:
- Colorado marijuana task force says employers can fire for pot use
- Jan 19:
- Future of Washington, Colorado pot farming still uncertain
- Jan 11:
- Legalización de marihuana crearía oportunidades, problemas para empresarios locales
- Jan 3:
- Do alcohol and marijuana mix? Colorado is about to find out
- Jan 1:
- Clubes para fumar marihuana abren en Colorado
- Dec 31:
- Pot social clubs ring in the New Year with spots to consume weed
- Dec 26:
- Authorities seize 10 pounds of marijuana
- Dec 20:
- Will cigarette makers jump into pot market?
- Dec 16:
- Piden definir política de EEUU sobre marihuana
- Dec 13:
- Second CU-Boulder student charged with 18 felonies in pot brownie case
- Dec 11:
- Colorado heading toward a too-stoned-to-drive standard, experts say
- Dec 10:
- Pot legalized in Colorado with governor's proclamation
- Ya es legal el consumo de marihuana en Colorado
- Con marihuana legalizada en Washington ¿Qué sigue?
- Police: CU students confessed to serving pot-laced brownies in class
- Dec 5:
- Celebrarán legalización de marihuana en Washington
- Nov 30:
- Douglas County set to block marijuana cultivation, sale
- Nov 28:
- Pot legalization no free ride to smoke on campus
- Nov 27:
- Hickenlooper to convene marijuana task force
- Nov 26:
- Aurora forgoes prosecuting small scale pot possession
- Colorado appeals court case debates question of off-duty marijuana use
- Nov 16:
- DeGette files bill to require feds to respect marijuana law
- Nov 14:
- Boulder DA dismissing small-scale marijuana possession cases in light of Amendment 64
- Nov 13:
- Calderón: Marihuana legal resta autoridad a EEUU
- Nov 12:
- Latin American leaders call for review of U.S. legal pot vote
- Nov 10:
- Hickenlooper, Holder discuss Colorado marijuana legalization
- Nov 8:
- Late-night shows, actors take pot shots at Colorado marijuana law
- Nov 7:
- Colorado officials seek clarity after passage of marijuana measure
- México prevé cambios tras voto marihuana en EEUU
- Pot votes in 2 states challenge U.S. drug war
- Hickenlooper reaching out to feds on Colorado marijuana legalization
- Colorado attorney general Suthers says he will respect marijuana measure
- Colorado voters support Obama, recreational pot
- Nov 6:
- Colorado measure legalizing marijuana passes
- Sep 15:
- Colorado marijuana legalization initiative leads in new poll
- Sep 13:
- Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper opposes marijuana-legalization measure
- Sep 11:
- Study finds perilous mold in Colorado pot-growing operations
- Aug 2:
- Colorado's medical pot industry fuels illegal trade, review shows
- Jul 3:
- Supreme Court ruling stokes Colorado pot debate
- Jun 19:
- Legal pot shops do not boost teen drug use, Colorado study says
- Jun 18:
- Easing of pot laws poses challenge for parents
- Jun 5:
- Colorado vote on pot could affect Obama-Romney race
- Debate sobre marihuana anima elección presidencial en Colorado
- May 15:
- Marijuana DUI standard dies a third time in Colorado
- Marijuana driving limits again poised for Colorado
- May 1:
- Colorado Senate gives initial OK to stoned driving limits
- Apr 20:
- Marijuana rally in trouble at Colorado university
- 4/20 events, and arrests, in full swing in Denver and Boulder
- CU tries to deter pot smokers with fish fertilizer, business-suit wearing counter protesters "stay classy" on campus
- Apr 19:
- Boulder's contentious "smokeout" expected to draw throngs
- Activists sue University of Colorado over 4/20 campus closure
- Apr 18:
- Eight Colorado counties plan events as alternatives to 4-20 marijuana smoke-ins
- Apr 16:
- ACLU: CU-Boulder's 4/20 campus closure thwarts 'right to dissent'
- Apr 13:
- CU-Boulder to close campus to visitors on 4/20, ticket trespassers
- Apr 4:
- Capital gets garden store for medical pot growers
- Tienda para siembra de marihuana medicinal abre en Washington
- Apr 3:
- Pot regulators slashed in Colorado
- Mar 23:
- Dozens of Colorado medical marijuana dispensaries told to move away from schools or close
- Mar 21:
- U.S. Attorney says marijuana shop closures cheered by Coloradans
- Mar 15:
- Five arrested for dumping garbage bag of pot in Civic Center and passing it out, police say
- Mar 14:
- Boulder DA asks feds to back off on medical marijuana dispensaries
- Mar 7:
- Denver's new DEA chief plans to live in a city where dispensaries are banned
- Mar 6:
- Yoga habit earns Aspen man a break on pot sentence
- Mar 2:
- Municipio español cultivará marihuana para combatir la crisis
- Feb 28:
- All targeted Colorado marijuana dispensaries near schools shut down, Feds say
- Colorado post offices see increase in marijuana packages
- Feb 27:
- "Driving while stoned" bill setting pot limits advances
- Feb 14:
- Fort Collins marijuana dispensaries shutting down
- Feb 7:
- Court of Appeals nixes medical pot use while on probation
- Jan 25:
- 16 charged in Denver metro-area pot bust
- Jan 18:
- Colorado voters might see two pot proposals on ballot
- Jan 12:
- Feds: Colorado medical-marijuana dispensaries within 1,000 feet of a school must close
- Jan 11:
- Lawmakers vow bill to allow medical-pot co-ops as banks shut out industry
- Jan 4:
- Campaign to legalize marijuana in Colorado turns in signatures in attempt to make the 2012 ballot
- Dec 28:
- Colorado seeks new pot classification
- Dec 16:
- California marijuana dispensary creates buzz with free pot
- Nov 30:
- Report shows fewer traffic fatalities after states pass medical-pot laws
- Oct 11:
- Colorado Supreme Court could take on medical-marijuana appeal
- Oct 7:
- Feds announce Calif. pot dispensary crackdown
- Crackdown on California dispensaries planned; Colorado shops watch development closely
- Oct 6:
- Feds target California pot dispensaries
- Sep 4:
- Driving while stoned difficult to define, regulate in Colorado
- Jul 22:
- Coloradans' use of drugs, alcohol much higher than U.S. average
- Colorado encabeza la lista de estados con mayor consumo de marihuana
Just days after guiding a Colorado marijuana-legalization initiative to an unprecedented victory, longtime Denver marijuana activist Mason Tvert scored another win: a new job.
Tvert is now the communications director for the Marijuana Policy Project, the national lobbying group that is the parent organization for Tvert's SAFER Colorado and was the main funder for Colorado's Amendment 64.
"I'm simply in a new role there, where I will be able to work on these issues around the nation," Tvert said.
Tvert's move underscores the national interest focused on Colorado in the wake of Amendment 64's passage. Not only are marijuana activists around the country eager to see how legalization will work in the state, they are looking forward to take what worked about the Colorado campaign and export it nationally.
"Let's move forward in other states, but let's do so patiently and strategically," MPP executive director Rob Kampia wrote in a commentary on The Huffington Post about three weeks after the election. "The path is there for us to follow."
It's an ambitious itinerary.
At a marijuana business conference in Denver the day after the election, Kampia outlined a campaign to advance marijuana-friendly laws in 14 states.
The sequential strategy will look familiar to Coloradans: first, pass a medical-marijuana law; then put dispensaries in place; then go for recreational legalization.
Looking to presidential election yearKampia said his organization is pushing medical-marijuana laws in New York, Illinois and New Hampshire, along with contemplating a ballot initiative in Idaho. MPP is working for dispensary laws in Michigan, Montana, Nevada and Hawaii, Kampia said. He is hopeful the legislatures in Rhode Island and Vermont will pass marijuana-legalization bills.
But the true test for marijuana activists will come in 2016, the next presidential election year. That is when Kampia hopes to run legalization initiatives in California, Massachusetts, Oregon and Maine.
"There's a lot of young voters who only come out for presidential elections," Kampia said at the conference. "The reason we had such a large margin of victory in Colorado and Washington was because it was a presidential election."
In his Huffington Post commentary, Kampia outlined other factors behind the successful Colorado campaign. Initiatives must be drafted inclusively and come after years of groundwork, he wrote. Their campaigns should stick to a simple message, focusing, for instance, on potential tax revenues or allocation of law enforcement resources.
And he stressed the importance of raising money early to buy ads early. That last strategy enabled the pro-64 campaign to buy television ad spots when they were relatively cheap and plentiful; opponents, meanwhile, found that TV ad spaces were too few and too expensive to make a difference by the time they had money for them.
"We were smarter and more organized than them on that issue," Brian Vicente, another leader of the pro-64 campaign, said about TV ads.
Marijuana opponents, though, are also learning lessons from the defeats in Colorado and Washington.
"I'd say the No. 1 lesson we learned was that we need more resources to get the message out that the only alternative to current policies isn't legalization," Kevin Sabet, a former White House drug-policy adviser who was against Amendment 64, wrote in an e-mail. "To be against legalization surely is not to mean that you are OK with the status quo."
The problem for marijuana opponents, though, is money. The No on 64 campaign raised just shy of $700,000 during the campaign. That's only about a quarter of the $2.5 million the two main campaigns backing Amendment 64 raised. Other groups contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars more in support of Amendment 64.
And much of that pro-64 money came from out of state. Eighty-eight percent of the monetary contributions to the two main pro-64 committees were from outside Colorado — suggesting that the fundraising haul is replicable in other states.
By contrast, the anti-64 campaign relied more on local money, gathering 55 percent of its funding from inside Colorado.
Legalization opponents say they are disadvantaged in other ways too. The most powerful endorsers against marijuana legalization — in Colorado, they included Gov. John Hickenlooper and Attorney General John Suthers — are often hamstrung by their day jobs in how much they can campaign.
"The government does not spend any money fighting ballot initiatives," said Calvina Fay, the executive director of Florida-based Save Our Society From Drugs. The organization was the biggest single donor to the No on 64 campaign, giving about $285,000.
Sabet said the legalization victories in Colorado and Washington have "rudely awakened" marijuana opponents, who are now working to form stronger organizations to fight back against legalization.
Individual state laws a challengeBut legalization advocates face other challenges in exporting the Colorado model.
For starters, only 24 states have a citizen-initiative process. And each of those states comes with its own unique stew of local laws and politics that prevents simply taking a standardized campaign from state to state.
The Taxpayer's Bill of Rights, for instance, prevented activists in Colorado from directly including an excise tax in Amendment 64, as activists in Washington did in their initiative. Meanwhile, the Washington initiative doesn't allow people to grow marijuana in their homes, as the Colorado measure does.
"The biggest impact this is going to have is the amount of discussion it has forced around the nation," Tvert said.
While Tvert believes increased conversation about marijuana policy inevitably leads to increased support for marijuana reform, Sabet isn't so sure. Widespread support for more lenient marijuana laws in the late 1970s hit a backlash, he said. It could be that the experiences of Colorado and Washington with legal marijuana will provide fodder for those arguing against greater acceptance of the drug.
"Time will tell if legalization will follow the same crash-and-burn course," Sabet wrote in an e-mail, "or if it will succeed to a greater degree in other states and nationally."
John Ingold: 303-954-1068, email@example.com or twitter.com/john_ingold