DENVER—It’s not just long-haired hippies and Bob Marley fans who want marijuana regulation in Colorado—it’s also some red-blooded conservatives in suits and ties.
That was the scene Thursday in Denver when a group of conservatives, headed by Joe Megyesy, former communications director for GOP Congressman Mike Coffman, met with representatives from The Campaign to Regulate Marijuana like Alcohol to discuss the issue of marijuana regulation and Amendment 64.
“I just think marijuana prohibition is another failed policy of big government,” Megyesy said. “There’s a better way to deal with it: treating it, taxing it and regulating it like alcohol is a better way to handle it where we currently are.”
Also in attendance at the information session was Amendment 64 campaign guru Mason Tvert, who said there’s no reason marijuana regulation can’t have bipartisan backing.
“Ultimately, support for ending marijuana prohibition spans the political spectrum,” Tvert said. “We have, for example, people like Pat Robertson, an evangelical, conservative leader, who has voiced support for ending marijuana prohibition and treating it like alcohol; then we also have people like [liberal congressman] Barney Frank, who also say we should end marijuana prohibition and treat it like alcohol.”
Robertson, who ran for the Republican presidential nomination in 1988, was featured in a billboard put up last week in Grand Junction by Tvert’s group. The sign advocates for marijuana regulation, saying “Pat Robertson would vote YES on 64. Will you?”
“These are people who otherwise would be considered on the opposite side of the spectrum,” Tvert said. “But this is an issue that affects so many different areas of our lives, that people on both sides can find common ground.”
Amendment 64 would legalize marijuana for adults 21 and over in Colorado and regulate it similarly to alcohol. If passed, Colorado would become the first state to legalize the drug for non-medicinal, recreational purposes.
Conservatives are split on the proposed amendment. Opponents, led by Republican Attorney General John Suthers and Weld County District Attorney Ken Buck, argue that legalizing marijuana would promote increased drug use and impaired driving, while setting up Colorado for a legal skirmish with federal authorities.
Other conservatives, like former U.S. Rep. Tom Tancredo, have argued that regulating marijuana would be a better use of government resources, and that adults should have the personal freedom to make their own decisions about marijuana as they do with alcohol.
“Whether it’s a matter of it being a waste of resources on an ineffective policy, or it being a policy promoting an underground market, it’s also a personal liberty issue for many people who feel alcohol prohibition did not work and marijuana prohibition is not working,” Tvert said.