It ain’t exactly the Wisconsin recall, but we have a little something-something of interest on the Colorado ballot next fall: pot legalization. Democrats hope it will, ah, motivate young people to get out of their parents’ basements and vote — and drive up Obama’s numbers here. Samuel Jacobs reports:
The initiative is a reflection of Colorado’s unique blend of laid-back liberalism and anti-regulation conservatism that helped make the state the birthplace of the Libertarian Party.
It’s a state where people of different political stripes see marijuana laws as an example of government needlessly sticking its nose where it doesn’t belong.
It’s also a proving ground for advocates who see legalization as a way to ease crowding in prisons, generate much-needed tax revenues, create jobs and weaken Mexican cartels that thrive on Americans’ appetite for illegal drugs.
The Rocky Mountain State already allows the use of marijuana for medical purposes such as severe pain relief, and some communities have embraced it enthusiastically.
As a longtime opponent of the drug war, I’m always happy to see a state or locality loosen up on Prohibition. But will Obama be helped by it? That’s an entirely different issue.
As Jacobs noted earlier in his story, Obama hasn’t made any friends in the legalization community, with his crackdowns on pot clinics and the like. His old wink-and-a-smile about casual drug use has turned into a mailed fist.
Most interesting is this tidbit:
The number of places licensed to sell medical marijuana products has reached 400 here, according to the Denver Post. That means there are more dispensaries in the capital than there are Starbucks coffee shops (375) statewide.
In other words, anybody in the Democrat stronghold of Denver who wants to get pot can get pot. And Boulder? Boulder’s Boulder, man. Anybody there who wants to get lit, is already. Or at most they’ll light up as soon as they get back from picking up a gallon of milk and a box of Oreos from the 7-11.
But they’re keeping hope alive:
“This is an issue that is really meaningful to young people, people of color, disenfranchised communities,” groups that typically lag in registering and showing up to vote, said Brian Vicente, 35, executive director of Sensible Colorado, a group seeking less restrictive marijuana laws.
“Democrats and Obama need these groups to win,” Vicente said. “The path to the White House leads through Colorado. We feel we can motivate these groups.”
To which I say: Good luck with that. If you’re trying to rally lefty stoners here by telling them you want to legalize pot, they’ll probably reply with something like, “Wait… it isn’t?” What’s next — legalizing porn in the San Fernando Valley? Maybe Vegas could drum up some visitors with the promise of casino games and hookers.
More likely, this measure will provide an even bigger impetus for prohibitionists to show up at the polls. A similar measure failed here in 2006, and it’s probably not news that the rest of Colorado — heavily GOP — is all kinds of fired up with anti-Obama sentiment.
If I had to pick right now, I’d say Obama might just hold on to Colorado in November. Our state GOP has been engaged in a six-year-long circular firing squad, and shows no sign of quitting. But if Romney continues to surge (and if Obama continues to stumble), then you can go ahead and paint Colorado bright red. And it won’t matter if you’re stoned or sober — it’s an awfully pretty color.