The United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW) Local 7, Colorado's largest union representing 25,000 members in Colorado and Wyoming, endorsed Amendment 64 on Monday.
UFCW Local 7 backed the amendment that, if passed by Colorado voters in November, would end marijuana prohibition in the state citing the expected job creation and positive economic impact that could come from the creation of a marijuana market in the Centennial State.
"Amendment 64 will foster economic growth and enhance public safety for our members across Colorado," Kim Cordova, president of UFCW Local 7, said in a statement. "Removing marijuana from the underground market and regulating it similarly to alcohol will create living-wage jobs and bolster our state and local economies with tens of millions of dollars in new tax revenue and savings. By taking marijuana off the streets and putting it in retail stores, we can stop steering money toward gangs and drug cartels, and start directing it toward legitimate, job-producing Colorado businesses."
Amendment 64 has its share of opponents including Gov. John Hickenlooper, the Colorado Education Association and Denver Mayor Michael Hancock, but has also received strong support from both Democrats and Republicans in Colorado, the NAACP, former cops and other members of the law enforcement community as well as more than 300 Colorado physicians and more than 100 professors from around the nation.
The measure appears to be popular among Colorado voters with several recent state polls showing wide support. The latest poll from The Denver Post showed that although the ballot measure is still leading with 48 percent of likely voters supportive of the measure, that is down from 51 percent just last month.
"We are proud to have the support of our state's largest union and these statewide organizations committed to improving our economy and creating living-wage jobs in Colorado," Betty Aldworth said, advocacy director of the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, the group behind Amendment 64. "We don't understand why some of our political and existing business leaders want to keep marijuana in the underground market, where sales are not taxed and the profits benefit criminal enterprises instead of legal businesses. If Amendment 64 passes, businesses and workers win, and drug cartels and criminals lose."
Joining the UFCW in endorsing A64 on Monday were the Operative Plasterers' and Cement Masons' International Association (OPCMIA) Local 577 as well as Colorado Progressive Coalition, ProgressNow Colorado and NewEra Colorado.
If marijuana is legalized in Colorado it would be taxed and regulated similar to alcohol and tobacco. It would give state and local governments the ability to control and tax the sale of small amounts of marijuana to adults age 21 and older. According to the Associated Press, analysts project that that tax revenue could generate somewhere between $5 million and $22 million a year in the state. An economist whose study was funded by a pro-pot group projects as much as a $60 million boost by 2017.