How Obama Could (But Won't) Boost His Chances in Colorado

Reuters reports the ballot initiative in Colorado to legalize marijuana could make or break Obama's chances in the state. Colorado is considered a swing-state for Obama.

At issue is whether Obama will get a boost from young voters expected to be among the most enthusiastic backers of a Colorado ballot initiative that would legalize possession of up to an ounce of pot for recreational use - and give the state the most liberal marijuana law in the nation.

Young voters are not the only Coloradans who believe the initiative should be passed: [More...]

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.

Denver has 600,000 residents. One of every 41 Denver residents has a medical marijuana card.

Denver has 400 medical marijuana dispensaries. Consider that Starbucks has only 350 coffee stores in the entire state.

Reuters says:

But in a close presidential election in which Colorado could be a tipping point - and with polls showing Obama has up to a 30-point edge over Romney among voters age 30 and under - the state's marijuana initiative could be a factor if it inspires waves of young voters to cast ballots on November 6.

Brian Vicente of Sensible Colorado says, "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."

"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."

Denver isn't the only place in Colorado the medical marijuana has been booming. In conservative Colorado Springs, there are more dispensaries than churches.

Taxes on medical pot brought in $5 million for Colorado in 2011. If the legalization measure passes, it is expected to bring in $20 to $80 million a year in tax revenues. Under Colorado law, the

Advocates of the initiative say legalization:

[will] ease prison crowding, help cash-strapped governments, provide jobs and weaken drug cartels.

The groups supporting the measure are not just pot smokers: "local civil rights and union leader"

In 1969, Gallup conducted a poll asking voters whether marijuana use should be legal. Only 12% said yes. Last October, the percentage of those approving had risen to 50%.

According to Reuters, a national Rasmussen poll last week had support of legalization at 50%.

If not now, when? My support for the legalization measure will become more vocal here at TalkLeft as election seasons moves into high gear.

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  • Display: Sort:
    Why is Obama against it? (5.00 / 1) (#4)
    by NYShooter on Sun Jun 03, 2012 at 09:59:09 AM EST
    He still believes he can win Alabama.

    Maybe (none / 0) (#9)
    by lentinel on Sun Jun 03, 2012 at 04:39:34 PM EST
    he's against it because the people who tell him what to do have told him it would be bad for business to be for it.

    You think? (none / 0) (#13)
    by sj on Mon Jun 04, 2012 at 11:27:57 AM EST
    Maybe.  I just figured it was because he is authoritarian by nature.  It's not inconsistent with his instincts to please big business.  IMO.

    And (none / 0) (#23)
    by lentinel on Mon Jun 04, 2012 at 03:44:36 PM EST
    one of the biggest businesses he may be out to please is the mob.

    They are the ones who would be hurt if people were allowed to grow plants in their own backyards without fear of being dragged off to the pokey.


    The thing that bothers me (5.00 / 1) (#26)
    by NYShooter on Mon Jun 04, 2012 at 04:45:44 PM EST
     is the Administration's complete disregard for history, and reality.

    People have been ingesting hallucinogens and mood enhancers since the beginning of time. We have recorded evidence from earliest Mankind that people have experimented with intoxicants of all types. Before there were laws people sought out mood altering substances for religious, spiritual reasons, or simply to feel good.

    You might even say humans are "hard-wired" to seek out things that make them feel better.

    I don't have the answer to the so called "drug problem." But what I do know for a certainty is that sadistic, punitive, State Sponsored, punishment & incarceration is the absolute wrong thing to do.


    This is still another area (5.00 / 1) (#5)
    by brodie on Sun Jun 03, 2012 at 10:22:04 AM EST
    where Obama has decided to join forces with the center-right establishment and continue traditional policies.  At times he almost seems to want to prove he's not the drug taking "Barry" of his youth by taking an even tougher stand against mj use even in the legal medically-prescribed states.

    He's shown no indication of even wanting to "evolve" on mj and the counterproductive War on Drugs.  So it seems like a pipe dream to realistically expect him to move so far politically on this one narrow issue and being so far into the election cycle all for the risky opportunity to grab some extra votes if one notoriously unreliable voting group in one state.

    He's safer and better off politically across the board with all groups announcing a new major jobs program to be submitted to Congress.  It's even a puzzle why he hasn't done so already.  That would energize the youth and also not cost him votes with the older middle.

    J'm surprised (none / 0) (#1)
    by jbindc on Sun Jun 03, 2012 at 07:09:58 AM EST
    By the 50%.  That doesn't seem like necessarily good chances to get legalization measures passed.  Depends on who comes out to vote.

    That Was Nationally (none / 0) (#11)
    by ScottW714 on Mon Jun 04, 2012 at 09:07:25 AM EST
    I suspect Colorado is higher than average, they almost have to be to get something like this on the ballot.

    The real question is, "Do more than 50% of voting Coloradans approve of it ?"  We will find out shortly.


    Obama (none / 0) (#2)
    by lentinel on Sun Jun 03, 2012 at 08:45:28 AM EST
    is so far behind on issues of common sense and issues of importance to people who are reflexively referred to as "his base".
    Obama knows about pot. He has acknowledge smoking his fair share of it. He knows how harmless it is, and how much fun and how relaxing it can be. But he has expressed only contempt for those who wish to legalize it.

    If we wind up with the likes of a birdbrain like Romney, it will be because Obama has lost the interest of those who would like to enthusiastic about his candidacy, combined with those who would rather vote for someone with whom they are more comfortable - in this case, a half-wit like Romney.

    Oy Lentinel (none / 0) (#14)
    by TeresaInPa on Mon Jun 04, 2012 at 12:14:05 PM EST
    first of all Romney is hardly a birdbrain.  Why is the knee jerk response to all republicans "he/she is stoopid"?  
    Romney's biggest fault is one he shares with Obama and that is absolutely piss poor people skills.  His are worse than Obama's which I didn't really think possible. His other big problem is that he has no real guiding political ideals of his own other than he should be in charge.  Some people would say he also shares that trait with Obama.
    As for legalizing pot, I know I am the minority here, but I am not in favor and the argument that it is fun, harmless and relaxes you is not a winner.  It is fun for some or most people some or most of the time.  But it is not harmless and though it relaxes your brain, in your body and metabolism it is a stimulant.
    I have been around, been related to, smoked the sh*t, stopped when I was 14,but was never able to escape the damaged people  all the time can be miserable assh*les when they are not high.  It's not easy on family relationships.
    I grew up in the counter culture and I mean right in the middle of it,not I visited it and then went home to my Leave it to Beaver parents at night. So I got to witness and experience the whole 60s/70s and beyond marijuana experience from the inside.

    I have a person waiting to go shopping here or I would give a whole list of the unforeseen problems of legalizing marijuana.  Obama is not just going to lend his political capital to legalizing pot because it is "fun, relaxing and harmless".  


    I don't think it should be (5.00 / 1) (#15)
    by sj on Mon Jun 04, 2012 at 12:50:45 PM EST
    legalized because  it is "fun, relaxing and harmless" (although it is for most people; more people are adversely affected by alcohol).  I think it should be legalized because it has benefits for many, many people that artificial pharmaceuticals do not.  

    OK (5.00 / 1) (#16)
    by lentinel on Mon Jun 04, 2012 at 01:38:27 PM EST
    If you are in favor of legalizing it because it is medicinal, I can completely agree.

    I would add that, imo, fun and relaxation are medicinal as well.

    But - as Lenny Bruce said many moons ago - you can't openly promote something because it produces, "that Devil's tool: pleasure".

    And as you say, it is natural.


    Fun and relaxing (none / 0) (#17)
    by jbindc on Mon Jun 04, 2012 at 01:54:16 PM EST
    are not good reasons to legalize anything.

    Speeding at 100 mph and weaving in and out of traffic may be fun and relaxing for some people, but it should not be legalized.

    16 year olds may find it fun and relaxing to smoke cigarettes and drink beer, but that doesn't mean it should be legalized.

    And just because something is "natural" also does not mean that it is not potentially harmful.  Eat many cow patties lately?  Those are natural, but I bet it would do a number on your system, including containing bacteria that could possibly kill you.

    You can make the argument that as a matter of public policy, legalization would free up money that is currently used to arrest, prosecute, and jail offenders (repeat and dealers - people caught with a joint in their pocket generally don't go to jail).  You could argue also as a public policy matter, that medicinal use is a societal benefit because those for whom MM eases pain may be able to live more productive lives and be less of a burden on their families and on society (although I suspect there are a whole host of people with MM cards who really have no medical reason to have one - they are using it as a way around the MJ laws).

    But arguing for the legalization of something just because it "feels good" to use it, is not, IMO, a winning argument.


    I agree (none / 0) (#19)
    by lentinel on Mon Jun 04, 2012 at 01:59:22 PM EST
    that it is not a winning argument - but that is why people smoke it. For pleasure.
    They like to eat ice cream. They like to talk. They like to hang out.
    They like to watch movies or listen to music. Is that so bad?

    But we can't say that.

    Comparing it to driving at 100 miles an hour - endangering the lives of others - is not at all a reasonable analogy.


    Well (none / 0) (#21)
    by jbindc on Mon Jun 04, 2012 at 02:05:19 PM EST
    I would say eating ice cream is not a good analogy - unless eating ice cream would make someone do this

    Did the pot make her do it?  I don't know, but it certainly did put the life of another in danger.


    I (5.00 / 1) (#22)
    by lentinel on Mon Jun 04, 2012 at 03:20:59 PM EST
    was referring to the things that people (some people, many people) like to do after having had a puff or two. By and large, they do not like to beat each other up.

    Personally, I  am not in favor of people driving while stoned.
    I am not in favor of people driving who have been drinking.
    I am not in favor of people arguing while driving.
    I am not in favor of people being distracted by their personal problems while driving.
    I am not in favor of people talking on cell phones while driving.

    But I can't argue against cell phones - or fked up personal relationships - or even against the legalization of alcohol.

    I can argue against people doing things that harm others.

    I can argue against people who are caring for children getting stoned or drunk or distracted.

    But I can't argue against someone laying back in a comfy chair, taking a puff or two on some good grass, and listening to Beethoven or Bird.


    I didn't know (none / 0) (#24)
    by sj on Mon Jun 04, 2012 at 04:32:23 PM EST
    that there as any sort of efficacy to cow patties.  Complete straw man.  Lots of things are poisonous/detrimental if not used as directed.  Household bleach is a good example.  Neither household bleach nor cow patties are comparable to the known efficacy of MJ.  

    So some people might not respond well to it.  So what?  Some people don't respond well to aspirin.


    Household bleach (none / 0) (#25)
    by jbindc on Mon Jun 04, 2012 at 04:37:48 PM EST
    is not  "natural".

    The argument was presented that we shouldn't criminalize MJ because it's "natural" and my point was so are cow patties, but that doesn't mean it's a good idea to ingest them.


    Fair enough (none / 0) (#29)
    by sj on Mon Jun 04, 2012 at 04:59:06 PM EST
    Then substitute raw kidney beans.  

    But that isn't exactly what lentinel's argument was anyway.  His point is both more subtle and more broad than you can address with your cow pattie comment.  


    No, I think the argument was that (none / 0) (#31)
    by Anne on Mon Jun 04, 2012 at 05:06:55 PM EST
    marijuana can be more effective than some "artificial pharmaceuticals" and last I checked neither cow patties nor bleach are considered to be pharmaceuticals of any kind.

    Thanks (none / 0) (#34)
    by sj on Mon Jun 04, 2012 at 05:28:34 PM EST
    Yes, that's it.  (I have so many tabs open right now it's taking forever just to switch tabs)

    also because (5.00 / 1) (#27)
    by CST on Mon Jun 04, 2012 at 04:47:03 PM EST
    there is a serious downside to criminalization.

    I don't think you can talk about the benefits to legalization without discussing all the problems that keeping it illegal causes.

    Sure, we can sit here and play the "they asked for it" game because it's people who broke the law.  But at what cost, and to what end?  People still smoke.  And more lives are ruined.


    But (none / 0) (#28)
    by jbindc on Mon Jun 04, 2012 at 04:53:58 PM EST
    And more lives are ruined.

    Is that the government's fault or the drug user's fault?


    we can sit here and play the blame game all night (5.00 / 2) (#32)
    by CST on Mon Jun 04, 2012 at 05:14:38 PM EST
    But my whole point was that it really doesn't matter whose fault it is if that is the end result.  A very preventable end result.

    There is a cost-benefit to every crime-punishment analysis.  In my opinion, the cost far outweighs the benefit in this case.  We don't cut off people's hands for stealing anymore.  If we did, and someone got their hand cut off for stealing, is that the person who stole's fault?  You could certainly make that case.  But we still don't do it, because it's not worth it.

    The loss associated with the drug war isn't worth it.  Really doesn't matter whose fault it is.


    I don't necessarily disagree (none / 0) (#36)
    by jbindc on Tue Jun 05, 2012 at 06:43:44 AM EST
    But to say that "lives are ruined" without assigning some of the blame to those who choose to use drugs (or smoke tobacco or alcohol - none of which is necessary for survival) is not the whole conversation and is dishonest.  If you want to have a conversation about the legalization of marijuana, then you need to have a WHOLE conversation - not just the parts that are convenient.

    JB, I think you might be interested in (5.00 / 3) (#45)
    by ZtoA on Tue Jun 05, 2012 at 12:32:20 PM EST
    criminalizing refined sugar. It is NOT necessary for survival and the long term health effects are devastating. Refined sugar has been linked to bad cholesterol and heart disease, diabetes and obesity. Sugary drinks are a huge factor in childhood obesity. Its not only linked to heart disease, but also hypertension and cancers. People also get a real buzz from a sugar fix. You may "like" your icecream and soda but we all have to pay for that. I think you would advocate criminalizing refined sugars.

    Yeah... (none / 0) (#41)
    by sj on Tue Jun 05, 2012 at 10:27:15 AM EST
    If you want to have a conversation about the legalization of marijuana, then you need to have a WHOLE conversation - not just the parts that are convenient.
    ...because that's so easy to do in a comment box.

    Come on, jb.  Everyone uses short hand here on complex issues.  Including you.  One has to.  This isn't the place to write a white paper.


    The government has selectively closed (5.00 / 1) (#33)
    by Anne on Mon Jun 04, 2012 at 05:16:10 PM EST
    its eyes to the risks of a lot of substances and activities that it has deemed legal, and as near as I can tell, the common theme to what gets the blind-eye treatment is how much money there is in it; if the government were really concerned about the health and well-being of the people, it would be hard to make a case for alcohol being legal, and yet...it is.

    It would also be a force for a single-payer health system, but again, the money's in private insurance, and that's why we're no closer to a system that would really improve the health and quality of life of millions of people.


    The government's fault (none / 0) (#30)
    by sj on Mon Jun 04, 2012 at 05:01:33 PM EST
    definitely.  If you are referring to MM smokers as the "drug user".

    Well (none / 0) (#37)
    by jbindc on Tue Jun 05, 2012 at 06:45:24 AM EST
    Actually I was talking about marijuana users as a whole group.

    Just like not everyone can take Vicodin - only those who have a specific need for it (and it is severaly regulated), MM users (those who truly NEED MM) are not necessarily the same as recreational users.

    Straw man conversation.


    Upon reflection... (none / 0) (#39)
    by sj on Tue Jun 05, 2012 at 10:19:38 AM EST
    ... and with your added comments ... still the government's fault.

    Of course (none / 0) (#43)
    by jbindc on Tue Jun 05, 2012 at 10:47:34 AM EST
    YOUR actions (not you specifically) of making the choice to smoke pot, even though it is currently illegal, and then paying the consequences, is all the government's fault.  They have a gun to your head and are MAKING you do it.

    Uh huh.


    Stop putting words in my mouth (none / 0) (#44)
    by sj on Tue Jun 05, 2012 at 11:02:55 AM EST
    I said it was the government's fault.  I mean it, too.  It's a bad law.  The government created the bad law.  What does that have to do with a gun to someone's head?

    The elephant in the room, though, is (5.00 / 1) (#20)
    by Anne on Mon Jun 04, 2012 at 02:04:35 PM EST
    alcohol: a perfectly legal substance the use and abuse of which exact very high costs across a broad spectrum of society.  And, like you, I don't just know that on an intellectual level, I lived it in my family.

    Why is alcohol legal?  Because the industry has a powerful lobbying presence, its companies make a lot of money for a lot of people, and state and federal governments collect taxes on it.  None of those things do anything to make alcohol less harmful, and yet...it's perfectly legal.

    It's hard to take seriously the arguments against legalizing marijuana in some form and/or for some purposes when one of the most damaging drugs there is - alcohol - continues to be abundantly legal.


    Alcohol (none / 0) (#38)
    by ScottW714 on Tue Jun 05, 2012 at 10:00:52 AM EST
    I would argue it is legal because the costs to society when they made it illegal where greater.

    I would also argue that one of the biggest hurdles to making drugs legal is the ability for society to determine if one is 'high'.  With alcohol its black and white, but for drugs there are no quick tests.  

    This is becoming a huge problem with pharmaceuticals.  The tests are fairly expensive, especially if the user doesn't let the tester know what they are using.  Even then, there are no standards for getting behind the wheel and add in the fact the medications are prescribed by doctors and you end with a mess that one wants tackle.


    I don't (none / 0) (#18)
    by lentinel on Mon Jun 04, 2012 at 01:55:00 PM EST
    think all republicans are "birdbrains".

    I'm sure that there are some democrats who are also not birdbrains.

    I was expressing my contempt for the qualities they express in their public lives - not how they might fare on an IQ test.

    Using what you wrote - that Romney has terrible people skills and no real guiding political ideas of his own - might conjure up a different descriptive noun for you. Birdbrain was my spontaneous utterance, but anything you might suggest to describe the qualities you enunciated will be fine with me.

    As for the use of mj: Sure people can use it to withdraw from their friends and family. But they can do the same with television. They can also do it with the daily paper - stretched out before their faces at the breakfast table.

    I would also argue that for some people, mj can provide some personal enlightenment and work in favor of a loving relationship.

    But I honestly believe in legalization. People should not be jailed for smoking a flower.

    I agree that Obama wouldn't risk his political capital - if indeed he has any left - on siding with people who want something they find harmless, relaxing and pleasurable. In this tight-arsed society - stuck in Puritan madness - that would be unthinkable.
    No. It's medicinal and helps people with glaucoma. OK. Good enough.


    let's try that paragraph again (none / 0) (#35)
    by TeresaInPa on Mon Jun 04, 2012 at 06:09:25 PM EST
    I have been around, been related to, smoked the sh*t, stopped when I was 14,but was never able to escape the damaged people who insisted on continuing even when they were making a hash of their lives and their kids lives. You know when someone is used to being high every day, they can be miserable assh*les on they odd day they are not high.  It's not easy on family relationships to live with some one like that.  I don't know many chronic users who don't fit in to that group.

    ::shakes head:: (none / 0) (#40)
    by sj on Tue Jun 05, 2012 at 10:24:28 AM EST
    You know some strange people then.  
    You know when someone is used to being high every day, they can be miserable assh*les on they odd day they are not high.  
    The type you describe are outliers in the "users" of my acquaintance.  As in one.  Moreover he has more issues than MJ use.  In his case the MJ is definitely a symptom of his other issues.  And I'd be a miserable assh*le, too, if I had his other unresolved issues.

    I can see the initiative getting people (none / 0) (#3)
    by Anne on Sun Jun 03, 2012 at 09:25:04 AM EST
    to the polls, but why does it necessarily follow that people voting for it will also vote for the candidate whose administration has continued - with some intensity, especially in states that have some form of legalized marijuana use - the ridiculous war on drugs?  Obama has shown no inclination to get behind changing the laws at the federal level, and as long as those laws do not legalize any drug, his position seems to be one of enforcement, regardless of what the states are doing.

    And don't forget - ballot initiatives like this also get people to the polls determined to vote against it - how likely are they to be Republican voters who wouldn't vote for Obama under any circumstances?

    I hope this is wrong (none / 0) (#6)
    by Mr Tuxedo on Sun Jun 03, 2012 at 11:11:27 AM EST
    but in my opinion, if the election were held this Tuesday, Obama would lose (narrowly). Since the jobs report on Friday, there seems to have been a shift in his fortunes, and because he has done such a terrible job of communicating about his administration's genuine accomplishments, that shift may be permanent.

    Obama and his campaign, knowing that they face a real electoral challenge in November, are counting on demographics, which means (in part) young people. He literally has nothing to lose by, if not "evolving" on marijuana use in general, at least reversing his administration's foolish and heartless policy on medical marijuana.

    Yeah, I don't get it either (none / 0) (#7)
    by NYShooter on Sun Jun 03, 2012 at 02:10:41 PM EST
    Even if he tossed out a figleaf and said he's forming a panel to "study" the situation would be better than the mean spirited attitude he's shown.

    Not going to happen (none / 0) (#8)
    by TJBuff on Sun Jun 03, 2012 at 03:24:21 PM EST
    For much the same reason all the leaks are coming out about Obama's toughness with drones.  Same old "appeal to rightie independents".

    So his drone policy is only (none / 0) (#12)
    by Wile ECoyote on Mon Jun 04, 2012 at 09:35:00 AM EST
    an appeal to rightie independents?  If he was not concerned with rightie independents he would not be using armed drones?

    Yeah, good luck with that (none / 0) (#42)
    by sj on Tue Jun 05, 2012 at 10:28:03 AM EST
    I hope you're not holding your breath.