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colorado amendment x hemp

No on Amendment X: Keep hemp legal and constitutional

Amendment X misleads voters into giving people less power, and politicians more power.

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Sure sounds like routine fine-tuning; Amendment X would “change the industrial hemp definition from constitutional to statutory.”

Problem is, we have a constitution because we don’t trust politicians to pass statutes protecting our rights. How about this, for example? Let’s transform the right to freedom of speech from “constitutional to statutory,” so we let the politicians decide what speech is legal, and what isn’t. So if your team is in charge, you can shut up your enemies. Until the other team is in charge, then you’re silenced. If you read a newspaper, it’s doubtful you’d buy that bill of goods. Constitutional rights are protected from the politics of the day, and Amendment 64 is locked into the Colorado Constitution to protect and legalize industrial hemp.

Amendment X misleads voters into giving people less power, and politicians more power, by gutting Colorado’s Constitutional protection and legalization of “industrial hemp,” currently secure as 0.3 percent THC (marijuana’s active ingredient).

Industrial hemp, although it is cannabis, is constitutionally not “marijuana.” Thanks to Amendment 64, Colorado has quickly developed one of the leading hemp industries in the world, employing thousands and generating millions. Hemp will soon eclipse marijuana in Colorado’s economy. Amendment 64 is the main reason this beneficial crop flourishes in Colorado, because Amendment 64 provides stability and predictability necessary for business.

So why would politicians tamper with this success? Simple. They would have more power. Amendment X would allow politicians to do what they do all day: use details and definitions in legislation as bargaining chips, cheat some people, give handouts to others, and pick and choose economic winners and losers. So this formerly-stable industry instead comes begging every legislative session, and fills the politicians’ trough.

The poorly-drafted Amendment X sets the definition as in “federal law OR state statute,” and can’t even pick between these two, which would cause immediate total confusion if enacted.

Both federal law and Colorado state statute define hemp as illegal. Neither one is clear, unlike the current Constitution, which paints a beautiful bright line at 0.3 percent that everyone understands. Colorado’s state legislators and lobbyists have failed to bring the statutory definition of marijuana in line with Amendment 64, passed six years ago by voters. Every hemp plant in Colorado is still illegal under state statute. See C.R.S. § 18-18-102(18). Colorado state statute still schedules THC, which is found in hemp, as a “Schedule I” narcotic, just like federal law. See C.R.S. § 18-18-203(2)(c)(XXIII).

Fortunately, the Constitution overrules those who demand a taxpayer-funded roof of gold over their heads every day they work. It’s no wonder voters don’t trust them.

Amendment X would unilaterally surrender Colorado’s Constitutional protections for hemp to the Trump Justice Department, which even this month continues its bullying threats against Colorado’s cannabis industry, which includes hemp.

Amendment X would hand Donald Trump a giant club with which to bludgeon Colorado. The politicians’ logically-bereft justification for Amendment X goes something like this: Federal law may someday increase the amount of THC allowed in hemp from 0.3 percent to 1.0 percent or something similar, which somehow makes Colorado’s definition of 0.3 percent too low.

The politicians’ folly is laid bare. The only reason cannabis is illegal, or defined as illegal, is statute. Hemp is a carveout and is not marijuana, although it is cannabis. Cannabis prohibition was invented by politicians, and can be eliminated or scaled back by them. Marijuana can be redefined statutorily as cannabis with THC of 1.0 percent, or 5.0 percent, or 10.0 percent, or legalized altogether. There is nothing in Amendment 64, or anywhere else, that permanently requires marijuana to be illegal, and nothing that locks in the statutory definition of marijuana or of hemp to any amount of THC. Amendment X would allow the legislature to re-criminalize hemp.

Someday, marijuana will be treated like alcohol, and hemp will be treated like the agricultural crop that it is. In the meantime, Coloradans need the full protection that our constitution gives against transient politics.

Colorado voters should preserve Amendment 64 and the constitutional protections for hemp, and should soundly reject Amendment X. Keep hemp legal. Vote no on Amendment X.

Robert J. Corry, Jr. is a lawyer and co-author of Colorado Amendment 64, and leads the “No on Amendment X” Issue Committee.

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Sure sounds like routine fine-tuning; Amendment X would “change the industrial hemp definition from constitutional to statutory.”

Colorado Amendment X: Industrial hemp and the state constitution

Amendment X would remove industrial hemp’s definition from the state constitution to enable state legislators to respond more quickly to changes made at the federal level

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Amendment X would remove industrial hemp’s definition from the state constitution to enable state legislators to respond more quickly to changes made at the federal level for industrial hemp growers. A definition for industrial hemp was added to the Colorado Constitution when voters approved Amendment 64, which legalized recreational marijuana in 2012. Hemp is part of the cannabis family, but is used for products such as clothes and rope. The amendment requires 55 percent support to pass.

Denver Post Voter Guide

Read all of The Denver Post’s election coverage — including stories, endorsements and candidate Q&As — in our 2018 Voter Guide.

Ballot question: “Shall there be an amendment to the Colorado Constitution concerning changing the industrial hemp definition from a constitutional definition to a statutory definition?”

The case in favor: Colorado, the leading producer of industrial hemp in the United States, is the only state that has the definition in its constitution. Removing it would aid the state’s competitiveness in an area with frequent federal regulatory changes.

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The case against: Colorado voters added the definition of industrial hemp to the constitution through the initiative process.

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Amendment X would remove industrial hemp’s definition from the state constitution to enable state legislators to respond more quickly to changes made at the federal level for industrial hemp growers. ]]>