Wednesday, October 2, 2013
When supporters and opponents of a statewide marijuana sales tax measure on the ballot this November look across the battle lines, they will notice a lot of familiar faces.
Many of them worked together last year to pass marijuana legalization. Just 10 months removed from that historic campaign — in which Colorado voters approved a first-of-its kind recreational marijuana industry — cannabis advocates have fallen out over how much the industry should be taxed.
Two of the main advocates behind the legalization campaign, attorneys Brian Vicente and Christian Sederberg, are now leading the pro-tax campaign. They're joined by marijuana-industry trade groups but also by opponents of legalization — such as Colorado Attorney General John Suthers and the Denver Chamber of Commerce.
On the other side of the fight stands attorney Rob Corry, who helped write the marijuana-legalization measure. Along with him is the local branch of NORML, the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws. "The marijuana community is not a monolith," Corry said. "... We do have family disagreements within our own movement."
The tax fight is the latest cannabis community quarrel. Factions of marijuana activists have previously disagreed over medical-marijuana regulations and even over whether to support the marijuana-legalization measure. The annual 4/20 marijuana smoke-out is a constant source of tension.
The debates often focus on whether it is better to strive for political approval while accepting some continued restrictions on marijuana or to seek more freedoms while possibly tempting a backlash. And image, as much as policy, is frequently at issue.