Would legalizing marijuana in Colorado make our state safer? Supporters of Amendment 44 say yes. If passed, the amendment would allow adults 21 and older to legally possess up to an ounce of marijuana at a time. Supporters of Amendment 44 deny claims by opponents that it is a gateway drug. Campaign Manager Mason Tvert says the only thing that makes pot a gateway drug is its illegal status.
"We're forcing otherwise law-abiding citizens into an illegal market where they find illegal drugs," said Tvert.
But Drug Czar John Walters says legal or illegal, marijuana is and always will be part of a deadly and destructive business.
"The same mafias that kill people on the boarder and slaughter judges and prosecutors in Mexico make the bulk of their money on marijuana sold here in the US," said Walters.
Walters was in Southern Colorado Wednesday to speak out against Amendment 44. Unlike past efforts to legalize marijuana for medical reasons, supporters of Amendment 44 aim to legalize the drug purely for recreational use, with the goal of reducing the consumption of alcohol-- a drug Tvert says is much more dangerous than marijuana.
"If adults who use alcohol use marijuana instead, there would be fewer cases of domestic violence, over-doses, death and so on," said Tvert.
"It (Amendment 44) suggests we can decrease the real effects of alcohol by having greater harms from marijuana," said Walters. "That's ludicrous."
Opponents of Amendment 44 say the initiative would also allow those over 21 to give marijuana to kids as young as 15. However Tvert says that is misinformation and not true.