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Go Growers!

Pot called state's 4th-largest cash crop

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NORML says Coloradans grow $140 million worth of marijuana annually

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By Dan Luzadder

Rocky Mountain News Capitol Bureau / Sat. October 17,1998

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Colorado growers produce about $140 million a year in marijuana, making the illegal plant the state's fourth-largest cash crop, the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws said Thursday.

The figures are, contained in, NORMlís 1998, Marijuana Crop Report; which evaluates marijuana production, value and eradication efforts in the U.S.

The figures are based on Drug Enforcement Administration information gleaned from the public record, said Allen St. Pierre, executive director of NORML in Washington, D.C.

"The problem with the figures is that unless (marijuana) is a regulated and taxed product, no one knows for sure how much is out there," he said.

DEA spokesman Mark Holm declined to discuss the NORML report, saying he isn't familiar with the methodology.

"Unless you are familiar their methodology, you really have a difficult time commenting on the validity of their study," he said.

NORMlís report says the retail price of marijuana in Colorado is $288 an ounce. St. Pierre said most of the production is in small garden plots or in homes, much of it by users.

Marijuana ranks behind hay, wheat and corn as cash crops in Colorado and in the United States as a whole, NORML said.

Nationally, marijuana growers harvested at least 5.5 million pounds, NORML said. That amount would be worth $15.1 billion to growers and $25.2 billion in the street market.

The nonprpfit research organization, which has been active for nearly 30 years, advocates taxing and regulating the drug.

NORML said the bulk of the enforcement efforts are directed at eradicating "ditch weed," a wild-growing variety of hemp that has little value to pot smokers because of its low potency.

"That's simply not true," said Holm of the DEA. "That's not being harvested for sale. We're interested in the highly cultivated plants that are sold for consumption."

Rocky Mountain News Staff Writer Michael OKeeffe contributed to this report. ==================== ================ ==========

Amendment 19 Nullified for Invalid Signatures

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Rocky Mountain News Saturday, October 17, 1998 Denver, Colorado ____________________________________________________

Pot vote wonít count Nov. 3

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State wonít count marijuana vote

Petitionís for drugís use as legal medicine short of (valid) signatures

By John Sanko

Itís official. Coloradans wonít get to vote Nov. 3 on whether to use Marijuana as medicine.

The on-again, off-again ballot proposal is off, even though it will be printed on everyone's ballot. Election officials just won't tabulate the votes.

Using an extra 24 hours granted by the Colorado Supreme Court, Secretary of State Vikki Buckley ruled Friday that there weren't enough valid signatures for the medical marijuana proposal to be on the ballot.

A line-by-line check ordered by the court revealed the petitions lacked the required 54,242 signatures of registered electors, Buckley said. She said the petitions fell 2,338 signatures short.

Buckley accepted 51,904 signatures and rejected 36,911.

The proposal would have allowed Coloradans with "debilitating medical conditions" such as cancer, AIDS or glaucoma to use marijuana if a doctor believed it might help.

Supporters were stunned by the news. But they-said the fight might not be over.

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Marijuana Called a Colorado Cash Crop see Story on 38 A (to be added)

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"We will be checking every bit of work that she did to make sure there aren't massive errors like we found before," said Luther Symons, a spokesman for Coloradans for Medical Rights.

"Should we find any legal basis for challenging this ruling, for example that she made a large number of errors, we will pursue all of our legal remedies. We will be carefully checking anything and everything. That effort will begin immediately"

Opponents were cheered. Citizens Against the Legalization of Marijuana virtually had shut down in August after Buckley said a random. sampling showed the petitions lacked sufficient signatures.

"That's very good news for the people of Colorado.and especially the youth of Colorado," said retired prosecutor Roger Allott, who cochairs the opposition group with Arapahoe County Sheriff Pat Sullivan.

Allott said opponents, including prosecutors, law enforcement authorities, health officials and church groups, had been gearing up to make a round of speeches if the measure was placed, back on the ballot.

"This would have increased the potential for children to use manjuana if it passed," Allott said. "That would have been a very grim outlook for Colorado and the kids."

After Buckley's initial ruling in August, supporters went to court, complaining that signature counters had done shoddy work. Buckley conceded some errors had been made.

Denver District Court judge Herbert Stem on Sept. 10 ordered the measure placed on the ballot. But the Colorado Supreme Court intervened Oct. 5, ordering that Buckley make a line-by-line counting.

See MARIJUANA on 30A ( to be continued; Please stand by! )

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