Under Colorado state law, a voter’s guide, known as the “blue book,” is required to include major arguments both for and against each state issue set to appear on the ballot. Colorado’s Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, Amendment 64, has filed a lawsuit because three of the main arguments in favor of the Amendment were wrongly deleted from the blue book.
The key points that were removed were:
- Marijuana is objectively less harmful than alcohol.
- The consequences of a marijuana offense are too severe.
- Law enforcement resources would be better spent on more serious crimes.
The campaign believes that the lines were removed in confusion, rather than intentionally, but the removal of the proponents’ arguments could be detrimental to the success of the campaign.
In order to modify the blue book description, lawmakers would need a true 2/3 majority, which they did not have.
The campaign explained, “Senator Mark Scheffel made a motion to amend the first of three paragraphs in the “Arguments For” section of the blue book, and it was approved unanimously by the Council. A short time later, members realized the motion had deleted the last three sentences of the five-sentence paragraph, whereas they thought it would only remove a few words from the first two sentences. To rectify the mistake, Rep. Mark Ferrandino made a motion to reinsert the three sentences, and it was seconded by Rep. Lois Court. The Council voted 8-5 in support of the motion, but it failed because it did not receive the two-thirds vote required to modify the draft. As a result, the key arguments in support of Amendment 64 were deleted without true two-thirds support.”
Now that the “arguments for” section was wrongfully edited, the “arguments against” section is 75% longer than the for section. According to Amendment 64 co-director Mason Tvert, “The blue book is supposed to be fair and balanced, and it’s safe to say this is quite lopsided and, thus, unfair.”
Campaign co-director Brian Vicente added, “The blue book process should be based on a good faith effort to provide objective and balanced information to the voters. With the action, members of the Legislative Council have knowingly and intentionally taken advantage of a misunderstanding in order to permanently omit some of the strongest arguments in favor of the initiative from the blue book.”
The campaign has also filed a temporary restraining order to stop the blue book from going to print before the appropriate changes are made.