Colorado Pot Regulation Amendment Pulled By Its Own Supporters

The measure was strongly opposed by the marijuana industry.


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A proposed amendment to the Colorado Constitution that would have placed restrictions on marijuana businesses was withdrawn last Friday by the amendment's supporters.

Proponents of the motion, Initiative 139, pulled the measure, citing the financial power of the marijuana industry as the main reason.

If Initiative 139 had made it onto the ballot, voters could have approved new regulations in November. The amendment would have required:

  • retail marijuana to be sold in child-resistant packaging;
  • edible marijuana products to be sold in individual, single-serving packaging;
  • health warnings to be placed on the packaging of retail marijuana and marijuana-infused products; and
  • the THC potency of the products on the market to be limited to 16 percent.

This measure was met with sharp opposition from industry as well as supporters of pot legalization, who formed the Colorado Health Research Council to argue that it would do more harm than good for Coloradans.

"Less than 20 percent of products currently on the market would still be legal for sale, and all extracts and concentrates would be illegal," the group posted on its website. "This will decimate tax revenue, which was almost $140 million just last year." (The state actually raised closer to $135 million in pot tax revenue and fees in 2015, according to The Denver Post.)

The council also called the measure "poorly drafted," adding that it could be seen as applying to both retail and medical marijuana, thus impacting those who use the substance to treat health conditions.

In order to combat this initiative, the group raised $368,000 and spent around $33,000, according to financial reports. Many of the donations came from parties connected to the state's marijuana industry.

With the financial odds against them, supporters of Initiative 139 stood down, but they say they're not going away anytime soon. They've formed a new group called the Healthy Colorado Coalition, whose mission is "to hold Big Marijuana accountable."

"The commercialized marijuana industry once again showed that they are willing to put their profits ahead of the safety of our children and our communities," said former high school principal Ron Castagna in a statement announcing the decision to pull the amendment. "At least for now, the racketeers have won. The Marijuana Moguls put a pile of campaign cash on the table and won. Our kids, and our communities are in crisis, for now."

The group could not be reached for comment.

Despite the focus on protecting kids, placing more regulations on the market is unlikely to stop young people from smoking pot. Nearly four years after legalization was approved in the state, the rate of marijuana use among Colorado teens has remained flat, The Denver Post reported in June.