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September 10, 2013 09:54 AM UTC

A Few Words About Morse and Marijuana

  • 2 Comments
  • by: Colorado Pols

The Colorado Springs Gazette's editorial page blared a nasty headline yesterday targeting liberal support for Senate President John Morse, perfectly timed with robocalls going out to Democrats in Senate District 11:

It's a safe bet many of the students who rallied for Morse last week would also rally for more marijuana rights. That's not to pass judgment on Colorado College. It's just a young, liberal college thing to advocate marijuana freedom.

Morse claims to favor legalization, but advocates of that cause do not favor authoritarian Morse.

Don't ask us. Ask the Marijuana Policy Project, the country's largest and best-funded organization working toward legalization of pot. The organization feels so threatened by Morse – a purported advocate of their cause – they named him this year's worst legislator in the United States…

If Morse could tax the air we breathe, he probably would. So at the end of the last legislative session, he co-sponsored a bill that would have suspended Colorado's Amendment 64, the law that legalizes marijuana, unless voters approve a giant tax increase on pot.

Our readers will recall coverage of the resolution in question here, which had the shortest lifespan of any legislation we can remember–about three hours from introduction to demise as alarmed marijuana activists descended on the capitol. That has apparently (we didn't actually know this) led the Marijuana Policy Project, a respected pro-legalization thinktank, to label Morse "the worst legislator in the United States."

The robocalls hitting Democrats in Senate District 11 cite the MPP, but are paid for by a group linked to longtime GOP operative Patrick Davis, former National Republican Senatorial Committee political director–and who we can assure liberal Democrats has no interest in legalizing marijuana. A larger problem is that both MPP and the robocalls are flat wrong about that bill's purpose. Senate Concurrent Resolution 003 would not have "resulted in the repeal of a voter-approved initiative to regulate marijuana like alcohol." None of the provisions legalizing personal possession and use of marijuana would have been affected. The resolution would have tied the opening of retail marijuana stores to the approval of the marijuana tax initiative headed for the ballot this November. As long as the tax initiative passed, the stores would be allowed to open. If not, well, they'd need to try again.

As we've said over and over about Amendment 64, the revenue opportunity is one of the big reasons pot is now legal. We believe it was a big part of motivating voters who were otherwise ambivalent about legalization.

Senator Morse said after the bill died that he introduced it to "get the attention" of the marijuana industry, which has been noncommittal to outright opposed to the tax initiative. The problem is that Amendment 64 was indeed not written in compliance with TABOR, which means the tax provisions built into the amendment are invalid–that's why the second initiative is necessary. Morse, simply put, was concerned about bad faith.

Those are the facts of what happened. We recognize that there are some who will read all of it and still disagree with Morse's short-lived proposal, and that's fine. The facts of this are not nearly what they're being represented to be by either pro-legalization advocates or opportunistic Republicans. And we think a full airing of the true facts would leave a lot of Democrats backing Morse–including plenty of pot smokers.

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