The marijuana legalization effort in Colorado is expected to get its first endorsement from a presidential candidate today.
The Associated Press reports that Gary Johnson, current Libertarian Party presidential candiate and former New Mexico governor, will stop by a Denver dispensary Monday afternoon and is expected to endorse Colorado's initiative to legalize and regulate marijuana like alcohol, Amendment 64.
Johnson will join Sensible Colorado, a marijuana advocacy group, as well as other members of the Colorado medical marijuana industry at Groundswell Cannabis Boutique to discuss current marijuana regulation in the state -- Colorado legalized medical marijuana in 2000 -- and the need for broader regulation of pot, according to a Sensible Colorado press release.
Brian Vicente, executive director of Sensible Colorado, had this to say to The Huffington Post about Johnson's visit:
We are pleased to have Gov. Johnson in town to witness firsthand how Colorado has successfully begun to regulate marijuana. The evidence is clear: regulating marijuana works. Colorado has seen a decrease in teen marijuana use since the state began the process of regulating medical marijuana, and we are confident that regulating marijuana like alcohol will further reduce access to marijuana by teens. Those who continue to ignore the evidence that marijuana regulation is working are doing a disservice to our citizens and communities. We are glad to see Gov. Johnson is taking this issue seriously and voicing his support for regulating marijuana like alcohol in Colorado.
It should come as no surprise that Johnson would support the ballot measure as he has been a vocal supporter of marijuana legalization and even brought the issue up during his campaign announcement in 2011 saying that he favors marijuana legalization as a way to eliminate much of the violence along the Mexico border.
On Johnson's own campaign website, he spells out his support for the end to marijuana prohibition clearly:
The parallels between drug policy today and Prohibition in the 1920’s are obvious, as are the lessons our nation learned. Prohibition was repealed because it made matters worse. Today, no one is trying to sell our kids bathtub gin in the schoolyard and micro-breweries aren’t protecting their turf with machine guns. It’s time to apply that thinking to marijuana. By making it a legal, regulated product, availability can be restricted, under-age use curtailed, enforcement/court/incarceration costs reduced, and the profit removed from a massive underground and criminal economy.
Amendment 64 seeks to legalize marijuana for recreational use for adults and will appear on Colorado ballots this November. This will be the second time Coloradans will vote on recreational pot legislation -- state voters considered and rejected a similar recreational pot legalization initiative in 2006. But Mason Tvert, co-director of the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, believes that Colorado has come a long way since 2006:
More Coloradans than ever before are aware of the fact that marijuana is not as dangerous as they have been led to believe and is actually far less harmful than alcohol. They have also seen firsthand via our medical marijuana system that it is possible for the state and localities to regulate and control the production and distribution of marijuana. They have read stories that quote law enforcement officials acknowledging that it has not contributed to crime or caused any significant problems. The environment here has changed dramatically.
Johnson's endorsement comes just a week after Rasmussen released a new poll that found 61 percent of likely Colorado voters favor legalization and regulation of marijuana.
That is the highest percentage of Colorado voter support that any marijuana legalization poll has shown to date. In December of 2011, a similar poll from Public Policy Polling showed only 49 percent in favor of general legalization of marijuana.
And it's yet another piece of good news for the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol which just recently received support for Amendment 64 from industrial hemp leaders as well as support from both Republicans and Democrats -- in March, 56 percent of the delegates at the Denver County Republican Assembly voted to support the legislation, and in April, the Denver Democratic Party officially endorsed Amendment 64 and added a marijuana legalization plank to the current party platform.
Below, where you can find legalized medical marijuana in the United States: