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Smiling at Doomsday: A Brief Deconstruction of Apocalyptic Myths



December 21st, 2012 is a laughing matter. As the day in which our existence is prophesized to be terminated or violently altered by a cluster bomb of planetary collisions, solar flares, and side-saddling zombies, laughter is the best option for either preparation or skepticism. At least 10-12% of the U.S. population believes that this day will be their last. But I, probably because of the intellectual arrogance I developed during my 18.5 years as a college undergraduate, am incredulous to the entire premise of this 2012 phenomenon and therefore choose to be a skeptic, a shirtless and burly and fluorescent mainstay of a man who isn’t afraid to giggle and flex against the doomsday explosions while saying, “D-Day, you pervasive charlatan, prepare for your timely deconstruction!” So leap upon my saddle-like shoulders (before the zombies do) and allow me to be your anthropomorphic steed as we gallop near truth to observe some of the most popular 2012 myths and the reasons why you should have no fear – research and logic are here.

The Mayan Countdown

The Apocalyptic Scenario:

The main spark for this whole end-of-the-world firestorm revolves around December 21st, 2012 being the end, or zero date, of the Mesoamerican Long Count calendar, a linear temporal register that kept time in units approximate to: 20:20 days made a uinal; 18 uinals, or 360 days, made a tun; 20 tuns made a k’atun; and 20 k’atuns made a b’ak’tun, or 394 years. According to Mayan creation accounts, we live in the fourth world; each world prior to the one we exist in ended at 13 b’ak’tuns, or 5,125 years. Unfortunately for us, we’re on the deadly verge of the fourth world’s 13th b’ak’tun, meaning we should be packing our lingerie and muskets, preparing for the ultimate going away party.

Why it’s Ever So Unlikely:

While some scholars of the early 20th century could tug their goatees and imagine catastrophe attached to this date, many present day scholars, archeologists, and NASA scientists, see zero empirical evidence to justify concern.  Furthermore, a Mayan Indian Elder of Guatemala, Miguel Chiquin, assured PULP that with the coming of December 21st and the end of the Mayan Calendar, there is nothing to worry about and all change will be positive and full of hope.  Many contemporary Elders of the Mayan tradition interpret this date not just as the end of the fourth world but the beginning of a new one, a transformation of consciousness, a mindset the ancient Mayans themselves would have subscribed to.  Its impact is comparable to the end of our 12 month calendar and the extreme revolutions that follow with every wondrous New Year’s Day. In other words, renewal is a state of mind, and if you disapprove of revolutions, nothing is going to change on December 21st except for your blood-alcohol level and expectations, either of which may be raised or lowered depending on your relationship status and affinity for global disasters.

Earthquakes and Explosions Due to Geomagnetic Reversal

The Apocalyptic Scenario:

You and your boyfriend are on an impromptu Dec. 21st hiking/camping trip (because it’s unusually warm or something) at Rocky Mountain National Park. He insists that you both veer from the intermediate path that the hiking guide recommends and “Go on a real adventure – in the woods!” Per gender stereotypes, he has no idea where the hell he’s going, yet needs no tool to direct him. Through his leadership you come across an unfrozen lake, which he falls in; an abandoned wasp nest, which he measures with his forearm, then pokes with a stick; and a derelict refrigerator that’s leaned against a Blue Spruce. Frustrated and dying for a foot massage, you tell him to stop messing about and refer to his map and compass. Eager to comply out of excitement for your participation, he removes the compass from his damp man-pack and gazes at it. Fear dilates his pupils. The compass needle spins clockwise in a dizzying frenzy and immediately stops, pointing due south. Before he can turn around to explain the wacky antics of his brother’s navigational accessory, the ground begins to rumble as his head explodes into a rainbow mist that paints the trembling trees vibrant.

Why it’s Ever So Unlikely:

            Geomagnetic Reversal, besides sounding like a third-string evasive wrestling technique employed by members of the U.S. Geological Survey, is a flip in the Earth’s polarity: north becomes south while your confidence becomes insecurity. And because her magnetic field likes to move to the heavy metal beat of her liquid metal core, shifts within the Earth’s core create electric currents that contribute to her perpetual magnetism as well as the “flip.” This flip generally takes place about every 200,000 to 300,000 years (but last occurred nearly 800,000 years ago) over the duration of hundreds of thousands of years and, the biosphere as my witness, hasn’t seemed to wipe out all life quite yet. The process is so gradual that if you had a compass gripped in your hands during this event, well, you wouldn’t even be aware that the reversal was taking place. No hyperactive compass. No earthquakes. No sparkling, polychromatic head explosions. The truth is your boyfriend would probably just follow the unaffected compass into a cave where a family of bears, awake and confused over the unusually warm winter, awaits with the intent to heartily cuddle (with their teeth).

A Black Hole Devours Our Planet Due to Galactic Alignment

The Apocalyptic Scenario:

Besides the dread and destruction caused from her periodic natural disasters, Earth is a benevolent matriarch to those who take pride of place upon her surface. Like a celestial supermodel, she parades around the Sun with her orbital path acting as a runway illuminated by the afterglow of deceased royalty, the stars we infinitely ponder. She loves her family, the planets with which she shares her infinite catwalk, and especially cherishes her hydrogen and helium caretaker. But all this love will do nothing to shield her from the Sun’s secret plot to disrupt her orbit. With the Earth’s North Pole tipping away as his cue, the Sun forces each planet into alignment, like servants in a galactic slave auction, and awaits his orders. Then, without sinister indication, the Sun, in fellowship with the gravitational pull of a black hole, decreases his mass to influence gravity and force Earth closer to the galactic center of our universe, where said black hole, Sagittarius A*, anticipates his offering with voracious eyes.


Why it’s Ever So Unlikely:

Like claiming that an intermittent knee to the groin is therapeutic, this scenario makes no scientific sense even without my hyperbolic rendition. Contrary to doomsday hype, Galactic Alignment actually refers to the alignment of the Sun, the Earth, and the center of our galaxy, not the planets; it takes place every winter solstice to some degree but hasn’t occurred with precision – when the center of the sun lines up accurately with the determined location of the Milky Way’s galactic equator – since 1998 and isn’t scheduled for 2012. And even though Sagittarius A*, the black hole starving at the galactic center, does exist, it’s 165 quadrillion miles (30,000 light years) away, meaning that our little moon has more gravitational authority simply because it’s closer and more handsome. So, worry not about being offered up as a sacrifice by our Sun to some spooky space glutton; focus more on feeding an undernourished kitten or pacifying a wailing toddler of ambiguous ethnicity — activities that’ll surely suppress all contemplations of being served as a galactic main course.

A Global All-You-Can-Eat Due to a Zombie Outbreak

The Apocalyptic Scenario:



Why it’s Ever So Unlikely:

The CDC released an official statement this past June to alleviate fears of a zombie outbreak, after Rudy Eugene was killed by police officers while chewing off Ronald Poppos’ face, a homeless man in Miami: They do not know of any virus or condition that could cause a human corpse to establish zombie-like systems.

But let’s disavow that knowledge for a moment and play with the idea of the walking dead. If they do spring from the sewers and graves of Colorado on the 21st, they don’t stand a biting chance against our collection of magnificence. Now, as a back-flipping fan of most things zombie, it stings my cheeks to say this: zombies are an undead personification of failure; they’re physiologically designed for inadequacy from the moment of conception, when they begin traipsing for blood, brains, and a sense of belonging. A zombie is, by most definitions, an animated freaking corpse. And with that in mind, recall some of the advantages we have over them for simply maintaining a pulse – a functioning body system (most notably the nervous and skeletal system), an ego that welcomes the challenge and passionate annihilation of competition, and hunting licenses (or the desire to own a gun and shoot things with the fundamental precision of a space marine).

Let’s take one of these attributes, a functioning skeletal system, and determine why zombies suck the twelve-gauge for being too dead to have one: skeletal remodeling. Whether you’re performing weighted squat thrusts to increase the charm of your thighs or dashing up a flight of steps to steal a glimpse of that shirtless braggart who used to work at Abercrombie, your bones are undergoing stress. Via chemical signals that call upon or block osteoclasts and osteoblasts, bone remodeling units, your bones become thicker, stronger, and less likely to fracture during spins kicks and down-on-one-knee marriage proposals. Since zombies lack blood flow and are unable to produce blood within their bone marrow, their bones do not remodel. The stress their skeletal system accrued while alive has not been repaired after their zombification, which means that the panicked force of a pimp slap combined with the zombie’s lumbering weight would be enough to leave it a crumbled, groaning assortment of incompetence on the pavement.

Well, maybe not.

But at least you’d still have your ego and hunting license.

Not Hype Enough


My narcissism tells me you’re thinking it, so I’m just going to puff up my chest and say it: What the hell is up with all this unabashed doomsday hype? Understandably, doomsayers have a prophet (I mean “profit”) to maintain by keeping a minority of the population soiled in fear. Sales in books, esoteric provisions, and even blast shelters – which have doubled in the past 5 years and cost between $400,000 and $41 million to build and install – are proof that distress bound to any issue can be lucrative. And though they are partially responsible for perpetuating fear to their advantage, utilizing the internet and the Media Industrial Complex, they play on our contribution to the hype: our eagerness and audacity to accept it.

First, we literally buy into it because it is dangerous entertainment, like naked skydiving or drunken bullfighting, but with the thrill of possible harm replaced with the thrill of purchasing power. We live recklessly by shopping recklessly, and nothing stimulates our right to buy stuff we might find useful like extinction suggesting that THIS MAY BE YOUR LAST CHANCE! YOU CAN’T SHOP WHEN YOU’RE DEAD! And so we purchase that three-in-one “lawnmower/anti-tank turret/portable beauty salon combo” to fill a space occupied by want, fear, and uncertainty; for on the off chance that the world really is on the verge of shambles, we wish to brazenly say that we kicked our regrets in their bucked teeth and were as prepared as circumstances would allow.

Second, we yearn to be crucial, important. And nothing overstates our importance as dramatically as being alive to witness our planet’s demise. If you’re religious or slightly spiritual, it’s like you were chosen for annihilation by a higher power. That ultimately proves it – something magical exists and it chose us! If you function purely on rationality and empirical evidence, you consider yourself lucky (or incredibly unfortunate) because the event took place regardless of the astronomical odds against it. Either way, we feel special, in a perverse kind of way. And sometimes we need that.

Third, and far from last, we need a distraction (which the media is ecstatic to provide) from the real-life concerns that seem too complex and impossible to remediate. Rather than focusing on stagnant wages or the fact that 1 in 2 Americans are either in poverty or near the poverty line and figuring out solutions, we focus on the fun and fantastical. As terrifying as global annihilation is, it’s far more interesting, immediate, and provocative than contemplating the hardships of struggling Americans.

Notwithstanding our acceptance to the hype, I anticipate December 21st with warmth, optimism, and humor. And I hope that, no matter the outcome, we can band together in support and take a moment to smile at the absurdity of it all.

And in case we never see each other again: Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

By Jedediah Hoy

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Ask Dr. Scott December



Q: Dr. Scott, how can I get through Christmas this year without gaining weight?
A: Plan your holiday eating list and check it twice! If you fail to plan, you plan to fail — this adage applies to many walks of life, but especially to maintaining the proper diet during the Christmas holidays. In addition to dedicating yourself to eating properly this Christmas, successful weight loss boils down to good planning; more than any other time of the year, planning is paramount during the holiday season.

Before heading to that Christmas party you should plan exactly what you are going to do and say when you are offered food (and drink) that you should not eat. Grandma and Auntie and the kids may say, “Oh, come on, it’s the holidays, just this one time…” But as you know by now, it only takes that one time. You need to plan what you will eat instead, and in what quantity. The more concrete the plan is to you, the more likely you are to stick to it.

Whenever possible, without becoming a Scrooge, plan holiday activities that are not centered on consuming food. There are many old traditions that work well, such as caroling or ice-skating, and certainly many more activities around Pueblo that could become your new traditions.

Be like Santa’s reindeer and graze. Instead of three big meals per day, you should eat smaller portions of something healthy about every two hours, ideally consuming six mini-meals per day. This gives your body a better ability to digest and will leave you feeling satisfied, not hungry, throughout the entire day.

Especially during the holidays, it is important to focus on the desired outcome of your diet when confronted with triple-fudge pie or negative emotions such as “I’m meant to be fat and unhealthy.” Picture yourself thin. Imagine yourself with an intensely higher amount of energy. Envision yourself getting far fewer colds and headaches, and fighting major diseases and living longer. These are the actual results of the healthy diet and lifestyle you are trying to maintain.

Prepare yourself for temptations, as they can’t all be avoided, by preparing to divert your attention back to the desired outcomes of your diet. Don’t cater to the feelings of self-deprivation, and don’t allow yourself to think, “I’ll never be thin anyway,” just to give yourself an excuse to eat that apple cobbler.

Instead, devote your energy to focusing on how wonderful you will feel for having made it past the desserts, past the entire dinner, and past the entire holidays with little or no cave-ins. And if you buckle once and violate your plan for avoiding the holiday weight gain trap, don’t use that as an excuse to keep failing. Re-focus on your outcomes and get back on the plan.

Of course, with some people, the emotional barriers preventing this positive thinking may run deeper. There are multiple methods, from meditation to prayer to professional counseling, that have helped people overcome such barriers.

In my practice, we use a newer approach called applied kinesiology that has been profoundly successful at helping people move themselves beyond mental and emotional issues sabotaging their dietary success.

Whatever method you decide to try, right now during the holidays — when hope runs high but so does temptation — is an ideal time to start practicing it. What better gift to give yourself, and those you love, than a truly healthier you?


  • Dr. Scott Cuthbert is a chiropractor at Chiropractic Health Center in Pueblo, Colorado, as well as the author of two textbooks and over 50 peer-reviewed research articles.
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Arts & Culture

Self-Reliance: The four exercises of Ralph Waldo Emerson

Ralph Waldo Emerson’s idealism remains an intrinsically baffling strain of thought to for readers interpret even today.  Yet Emerson’s intellectual stock has never been valued higher. Emersonian thought has become the model of the independent American mind heroically transcending personal and social limitations to liberate its genius. The concept of self-reliance, perhaps Emerson’s most potent and misunderstood concept, constructed in the essay Self-Reliance, is not the philosophy of rugged individualism, nor is it the ideological doctrine of strict libertarianism.  Self-reliance is always a method or an instrument, presenting itself in different masks depending on the era and circumstance.  It is a cookbook for making lucid universal objective truth through the act of finding the totality of a universe in oneself, seeing oneself as a creator.



Ralph Waldo Emerson’s idealism remains an intrinsically baffling strain of thought to for readers interpret even today.  Yet Emerson’s intellectual stock has never been valued higher. Emersonian thought has become the model of the independent American mind heroically transcending personal and social limitations to liberate its genius.
The concept of self-reliance, perhaps Emerson’s most potent and misunderstood concept, constructed in the essay Self-Reliance, is not the philosophy of rugged individualism, nor is it the ideological doctrine of strict libertarianism.  Self-reliance is always a method or an instrument, presenting itself in different masks depending on the era and circumstance.  It is a cookbook for making lucid universal objective truth through the act of finding the totality of a universe in oneself, seeing oneself as a creator.

Self-reliant individuals accept that personality grows from the root of society and relation to others; however, in the same actualization resolves personality must be extinguished to grasp universality and their full human potential.  The essential aspect of the person is found in solitude, devoid of personality.  In his essay, Self-Reliance, Emerson outlines four exercises for achieving self-reliance.  

First, an individual may reach ultimate reality through nonconformity.  Nonconformity is the exercise of devotion to individuality.  The nonconformist exercise taps into an individual’s passionate capacity, sublimating the rich spectrum of emotions into self-compassion and self-reliance, bringing her and him closer to a fundamental inner-centeredness.  Nonconformity appeals to an emotional temperament.

Nonconformity and Compassion

Ralph Waldo Emerson makes it explicit from the start of Self-Reliance that “Whoso be a man, must be a nonconformist.  He who would gather immortal palms must not be hindered by the name of goodness, but must explore if it be goodness.”  In other words, even the concept of goodness cannot be taken for granted and should be subject to scrutiny.  And if what the normative culture calls ‘good’ shows itself as not corresponding with the individual’s internal impression of good, measured emotionally in terms of whether it promotes self-compassion, then the status quo should be rejected.  This principle is played out in Self-Reliance when Emerson recounts, “I remember an answer which when quite young I was prompted to make to a valued advisor who was wont with opportune me with the dear old doctrines of the Church.  On my saying, ‘What have I to do with the sacredness of traditions, if I live wholly from within?’ my friend suggested – ‘But these impulses may be from below, not from above.’  I replied, ‘They do not seem to me to be such; but if I am the Devil’s child, I will live then from the Devil.’” This is to say the motto of Emersonian nonconformity reads ‘When in America, Kill the King.  Follow what is Deep’.  And in concrete language Emerson concludes, “No law can be sacred to me but that of my nature… The only right is what is after my constitution; the only wrong what is against it.”  The exercise of nonconformity maximizes self-reliance by cultivating a sense of self-love in the individual that transcends normative culture.

Second, an individual becomes universal through the exercise of selfless action and cutting ties with materialistic habits.  The institutions of society, as well as those of family and friendship become problematic for the will to self-reliance in that these entanglements create the relative mirrors by which individuals see themselves and construct identity that obscures what is essentially individual, namely, our duty carried out in solitude.  The exercise of ‘letting go’ appeals to a pragmatic temperament.

Society and Selfless Action

Society is self-serving; and Emerson asserts “Society everywhere is in conspiracy against the manhood [and womanhood] of every one of its members.” Society urges individuals to act in preservation of self to conserve traditions, and these structures inhibit an individual’s ability to be self-reliant.  To act selflessly is not to act without regard to one’s well being; selfless action is to act and behave toward others and the environment as you would if there was no egotistic-self relative to them and it, to normal, to consistent.  Even the institution of family must be repainted before the individual can become self-reliant in society.  Emerson instructs, for this exercise, let go of all ties to society and tell friends and family “I cannot break myself any longer for you.  If you can love me for what I am, we shall be the happier.  If you cannot, I will seek to deserve that you should.  I will not hide my tastes or aversions… If you are noble, I will love you; if you are not, I will not hurt you or myself… I do this not selfishly but humbly and truly… Be it known unto you that henceforward I obey no laws less than the eternal law.  I will have no covenants but proximities.”  The individual has let go of social entanglement, narrowed awareness to immediate relations and duties, interacts with other individuals in various contexts, but now exercises self-reliance through selfless action.

Third, an individual cuts through the veil of ignorance and constructs inward self-reliance by relentlessly seeking the unbound creativity seen in youth.  What becomes True is not tradition but what is Deep.  Youth brings no limitation to imagination and creativity; Experience only testifies to impossibility.  There is no wall the youth cannot walk through.  The exercise of proliferating youthful imagination appeals to the philosophical and intellectual temperament.

Youth and Inward Revolution

Reconnecting with the creative condition of youth, for Emerson, is one of the most potent means for achieving self-reliance.  Emerson professes, in contrast to the youth, “Man is timid and apologetic; he is no longer upright; he dares not say ‘I Think,’ ‘I Am,’ but quotes some saint or sage.”  For Emerson the object of youth is creativity and inquiry.  With a view of reality unobstructed by the structures of tradition, youth seeks answers to the obstacles it faces with synthetic thought, namely, the solution of combining what is understood to be how nature works and inner instinct.  Emerson prescribes his reader the exercise of adopting radical inward malleability in daily thought and criticism.  But more than that, Emerson reminds the experienced and influential not to make the mistake of letting their ambitious imagination decay and “think that the youth has no force, because he cannot speak to you and me.  Hark! In the next room his voice is sufficiently clear and emphatic.  It seems he knows how to speak to his contemporaries.  Bashful or bold then, he will know how to make us seniors very unnecessary.”  For Emerson, experience without growth is hardly worth having lived for.  And the principle underlying Emerson’s anthem for the youth and call for inward revolution culminates in his assertion that “This one fact the world hates; that the soul becomes; for that forever degrades the past, turns all riches to poverty, all reputation to shame, confounds the saint with the rouge, shoves Jesus and Judas equally aside…  Greatness appeals to the future.”  So, through youthful curiosity with perception focused inward and cultivated creative and critical capacities, the individual becomes self-reliant. 

Fourth, the individual achieves self-reliance through joining the momentum of the multiverse.  This is accomplished through autonomous adherence to the laws of nature.  In mastering one’s own mind through principle the individual becomes unified with their genius; and in the company of our genius the underlying cosmological constants become visible and thus the universe of the mind synchronizes with the energy of the multiverse.  The object of genius is freedom through inward discipline of the mind.  Genius appeals to the mystical and scientific temperament.

Genius and Principle

All thinkers at a point in their inward exploration tackle the question “What is the aboriginal Self, on which a universal reliance may be grounded?”  And Emerson explains that “This inquiry leads us to that source, at once the essence of genius, of virtue, and of life, which we call Spontaneity or Instinct.”  So in this way an individual exercises his or her genius by choosing their principle and fully living it out.  Emerson further exclaims, “To believe your own thought, to believe that what is true for you in your private heart is true for all men – that is genius.  Speak your latent conviction, and it shall be the universal sense; for the inmost in due time becomes the outmost, and our first thought is rendered back to us by the trumpets of the last Judgment.”  This is to profess that where it is instinct and spontaneity that serves as the cornerstone interconnecting our universes, to exercise principled instinct is to tap into the multiversal consciousness.  Emerson concludes, “There is a time in every man’s education when he arrives at the conviction that envy is ignorance; that imitation is suicide…  The power which resides in him is new in nature, and none but he knows what that is which he can do, nor does he know until he has tried.”  So through following instinct in principle the individual learns to trust their inner judge and create themselves – self-reliance.

Self-Reliance, for Emerson, is then fully articulated by the collective exercise of shifting vision inward toward universal truth, of revolution without movement, the proliferation of genius in youth, as well as illumination of human potential; to topple the ruins of a paradigm dominated by the traditions of obsolete institutions, illusory economies, dead religions, and hollow offices.

Bio and Other Important Works:

According to, “American poet, essayist, and philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson was born in 1803 in Boston, Massachusetts. After studying at Harvard and teaching for a brief time, Emerson entered the ministry. He was appointed to the Old Second Church in his native city, but soon became an unwilling preacher. Unable in conscience to administer the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper after the death of his nineteen-year-old wife of tuberculosis, Emerson resigned his pastorate in 1831.

Known in the local literary circle as “The Sage of Concord,” Emerson became the chief spokesman for Transcendentalism, the American philosophic and literary movement. Centered in New England during the 19th century, Transcendentalism was a reaction against scientific rationalism.

Emerson’s first book, Nature (1836), is perhaps the best expression of his Transcendentalism, the belief that everything in our world—even a drop of dew—is a microcosm of the universe. His concept of the Over-Soul—a Supreme Mind that every man and woman share—allowed Transcendentalists to disregard external authority and to rely instead on direct experience.

Emerson wrote a poetic prose, ordering his essays by recurring themes and images. His poetry, on the other hand, is often called harsh and didactic. Among Emerson’s most well known works are Essays, First and Second Series (1841, 1844). The First Series includes Emerson’s famous essay, “Self-Reliance,” in which the writer instructs his listener to examine his relationship with Nature and God, and to trust his own judgment above all others.

Emerson’s other volumes include Poems (1847), Representative Men, The Conduct of Life (1860), and English Traits (1865). His best-known addresses are The American Scholar (1837) and The Divinity School Address, which he delivered before the graduates of the Harvard Divinity School.”

The Essential Writings of Ralph Waldo Emerson further observes, “Following the Civil War, Emerson continued to lecture energetically publishing Society and Solitude (1870) and the verse collection May Day and Other Pieces (1867).  In 1872 his health began to fail, and after a final trip to Europe he settled into a quieter routine as his memory gradually weakened.  Ralph Waldo Emerson died of pneumonia in 1882.”

Self-Reliance is available for free online at:

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What is Next for Amendment 64?

Weed is legal, but what exactly does that mean for you and me as we move forward?



More Coloradoans used their vote in November’s election to legalize marijuana than were cast to reelect the President of the United States.  Amendment 64 received 1,291,771 votes in favor and President Obama received 1,238,490 votes from Colorado citizens – according to

In the language of Amendment 64:

In the interest of the efficient use of law enforcement resources, enhancing revenues for public purposes, and individual freedom, the people of the state of Colorado find and declare that the use of marijuana should be legal for persons twenty-one years of age or older and taxed in a manner similar to alcohol.

What is unique about this bill is the extent to which it transcends political party lines, and brings together constituencies for practical purposes, which are many times on opposite ends of the spectrum when it comes to political positions.  Fiscal progressives like the idea of legalizing marijuana if it will raise revenue in the state to put toward public schools and community projects. Libertarians support legalization of marijuana on the grounds that it promotes individual liberty.  However, what likely pushed support beyond the tipping point of passage is that legalizing marijuana is compatible with fiscal conservatism by means of millions of projected dollars in savings for the criminal justice system by allowing resources to be allocated away from pursuing and punishing marijuana users and toward more productive endeavors, like minimizing violent crimes.

This analysis is supported by a budgetary study done by the Colorado Center on Law & Policy that concluded Amendment 64 “could generate as much as a total of $60 million in savings and revenue” as well as create several hundred new jobs, mostly in the construction sector.  Broken down new revenue and savings will come from the following areas:

    • $12 million dollars of annual savings in criminal justice costs
    • $24 million in excise tax revenue
    • $8.7 million in state sales tax revenue
    • $14.5 million in local tax revenue

So, weed is legal, but what exactly does that mean for you and me as we move forward?

Under the new law the following activities will be lawful under the Colorado Constitution, after the bill takes full effect, for individuals twenty-one years or older: 

  • a. Possessing, using, and displaying, purchasing, or transporting marijuana accessories or one ounce or less of marijuana.
  • b. Possessing, growing, processing, or transporting no more than six marijuana plants, with three or fewer being mature, flowering plants, and possession of the marijuana produced by the plants on the premises where the plants were grown, provided that the growing takes place in an enclosed, locked space, is not conducted openly or publically, and is not made available for sale.
  • c. Transfers of one ounce or less of marijuana without remuneration [without payment] to a person who is twenty-one years of age or older. 
  • d. Consumption of marijuana, provided that nothing in this section shall permit consumption that is conducted openly or publically in a manner that endangers others.
  • e. Assisting another person who is twenty-one years of age or older in any of the acts described in paragraphs a-d of this subsection.

And in regard to what is next for local law enforcement in light of the passage of Amendment 64, Pueblo Chief of Police Luis Velez tells PULP that for the moment there will be no change in the policy of handling marijuana infractions in Pueblo and that the “Chiefs [of police in Colorado] Association is still awaiting direction from the Attorney General to be handed down.”  And although the final policies are not due to be in place until well into next year, Chief Velez further explained that some policies might begin to be enacted as early as this December or January of 2013.

One of the first regulations likely to be introduced, according to Chief Velez, will be one that sets a standard for measuring the legal limit of THC that can be in a driver’s system and policies for police officers who will have to handle a breadth of marijuana possession situations.  For example, an Arizonan traveling through Colorado to Kansas in possession of marijuana might be charged federally, while a resident of Conejos County traveling to Summit County, with a legal amount of marijuana might not be penalized.

Colorado Attorney General John Suthers recently stated, “Despite my strongly-held belief that the legalization of marijuana on a state level is a very bad public policy, voters can be assured that the Attorney General’s Office will move forward in assisting the pertinent executive branch agencies to implement this new provision in the Colorado Constitution.”

Below are highlights from regulations that must be in place by July 13, 2013 under Amendment 64: 

  • Qualifications for licensure that are directly and demonstrably related to the operation of a marijuana establishment.
  • Security requirements for marijuana establishments.
  • Requirements to prevent the sale or diversion of marijuana and marijuana products to persons under the age of twenty-one.
  • Labeling requirements for marijuana and marijuana products sold or distributed by a marijuana establishment.
  • Health and safety regulations and standards for the manufacture of marijuana and the cultivation of marijuana.
  • Restrictions on the advertising and display of marijuana and marijuana products. 
  • Civil penalties for the failure to comply with regulations made pursuant to this section.

In contrast to the similar law passed in Washington State, Initiative 502 legalizing marijuana for recreational use, Colorado’s strategy for regulating cannabis is left vague and focuses more on what regulations and restrictions cannot be put in place than outlining what regulations will be implemented for individuals and organizations.  

Also of significance:

In order to ensure that individual privacy is protected, individuals shall not be required to provide a retail marijuana store with personal information other than government-issued identification to determine the consumer’s age, and a retail marijuana store shall not be required to acquire and record personal information about consumers other than information typically in a financial transaction conducted at a retail liquor store.

There shall be enacted an excise tax to be levied upon marijuana sold or otherwise transferred by a marijuana cultivation facility to a marijuana product manufacturing facility or to a retail marijuana store at a rate not to exceed fifteen percent prior to January 1, 2017 and at a rate to be determined by the general assembly thereafter, and shall direct the department to establish procedures for the collection of all taxes levied.  Provided, the first forty million dollars in revenue raised annually from any such excise tax shall be credited to the Public School Capital Construction Assistance Fund, or any fund dedicated to a similar purpose.  Provided further, no such excise tax shall be levied upon marijuana intended for sale at medical marijuana centers.

While Amendment 64 sets a new precedent for the expansion of civil liberties, the following is a list of things you still cannot do in Colorado:

Drive under the influence of marijuana or while impaired by marijuana.

Transfer marijuana with or without remuneration to a person under the age of twenty-one or to allow a person under the age of twenty-one to purchase, possess, use, transport, grow, or consume marijuana.

[Nothing in the bill prohibits] Persons, employers, schools, hospitals, detention facilities, corporations or any other entity who occupies, owns or controls a property from prohibiting or otherwise regulating the possession, consumption, use, display, transfer, distribution, sale, transportation, or growing of marijuana on or in that property.

Finally, medical marijuana will be unaffected and under the language of the bill:

This amendment will not limit any privileges or rights of a medical marijuana patient, primary caregiver, or licensed entity as provided in section 14 of this article and the Colorado Medical Marijuana Code.

So what becomes clear is that the democratic will of state has spoken clearly in favor of Marijuana; and Colorado will now begin the long road of putting in place just regulations of cannabis and policies to protect the liberty of consumers.

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