The successful passage of Amendment 64 was the result of a combined effort among many different parties and tireless activists. But if we had to choose one to honor above the rest, it would be Brian Vicente, lawyer, activist, executive director of Sensible Colorado, and co-director of the successful 2012 Campaign to pass the Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Amendment.
Vicente has been leading the charge against marijuana prohibition for eight years. In 2004, a grant from the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) helped create Vicente’s one-man shop, Sensible Colorado, as well as SAFER, headed by Mason Tvert. SAFER was mainly responsible for the failed legalization attempt in 2006, but its greater goal was to educate the state’s residents on the myths and misconceptions regarding marijuana use. Sensible Colorado, meanwhile, focused on expanding access to marijuana, according to MPP Executive Director Rob Kampia.
Ever wonder why you didn’t see many dispensaries until around 2009? That’s because for the years following the legalization of medical marijuana in 2000, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment enforced an informal limit on the number of patients for which one person, a “caregiver” under law, could administer marijuana. In 2007, Brian Vicente successfully sued the state for not allowing public input on the rule, and a judge forced the CDPHE to reconsider. At a rowdy public meeting in 2009, the CDPHE voted to lift the limit, allowing for the mass proliferation of dispensaries.
If you follow the logic that medical marijuana paved the way for legalization by showing the state that freely available reefer doesn’t mean an end to civilized society, then this was very important. And it was Vicente who masterminded the whole effort.
Vicente then teamed up with Tvert and a slew of other folks to lead the effort to get 64 passed. Sure, there are probably a half-dozen others who are deserving of this honor, but we think Vicente takes the cake for eight years of dedicated activism. Amendment 64 could have a ripple effect on prisons, crime rate, state budgets, you name it. Maybe the feds will get the message that marijuana should no longer be classified as a Schedule 1 narcotic. Thanks to Vicente, we as a nation are that much closer to achieving that goal.
People of the Year: Our Longmont
Runner-Up: James Balog, Chasing Ice