Former Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-Colo.) may have lost the GOP gubernatorial primary in Colorado this year, but he did get a major role in a new documentary about the Centennial State's historic legalization of recreational marijuana. The conservative firebrand watches as the documentary's maker lights up some of the first legal recreational marijuana ever purchased and may have caught a bit of a "contact buzz" in the process.
About an hour into "Mile High: The Comeback of Cannabis," a new documentary that tracks the historic legalization of marijuana in Colorado, filmmaker Adam Hartle sits down with Tancredo and chats with him about politics, the Colorado gubernatorial race (Tancredo lost the GOP nomination last month) and, of course, marijuana legalization -- all while Hartle smokes a legal marijuana joint right across from Tancredo.
"Somebody said the new one-word motto for Colorado now: 'Dude,'" Tancredo says with a laugh as the interview begins. Tancredo then asks Hartle about the marijuana joints and marijuana-infused edibles the filmmaker bought on Jan. 1, when Colorado's pot shops first opened. Hartle's transaction at 3D Cannabis Center, one of the first shops to open in Denver, was captured by Associated Press photographer Brennan Linsley during Colorado's historic "Green Wednesday":
Hartle then explains the differences between the effects of consuming an edible versus smoking marijuana flower.
"It's a different type of high," Hartle says to a curious Tancredo. "But it's perfectly natural, they've infused it in candy form. When you eat it, it's a different version than when you actually smoke it. It lasts a little bit longer, it's a body high as opposed to a mental high, you know?"
To which Tancredo replies, "No, I don't."
Tancredo, a vocal supporter of marijuana legalization, says he has never smoked marijuana. But he can now say he has sat in a room breathing marijuana smoke billowing from Hartle's joint as the filmmaker puffed away during the interview.
As marijuana smoke fills the room, Hartle asks the politician about his support for Colorado Amendment 64, which legalized recreational marijuana for adults in 2012. Tancredo answers: "Most of the people who consider themselves to be extremely conservative, look at [my support of Amendment 64] and say, 'What is he doing?' And I keep saying, 'If you call yourself conservative, why aren't you?' The whole issue of the nanny state, we rail against it as conservatives and we are right to do so. But telling you that you cannot do that, which you just did, by law -- it's getting kind of smokey in here already -- telling you cannot do that by law is just none of my business," Tancredo says with a cough. "And so it was a pretty simple matter for me, but not for my colleagues."
Tancredo says in the film that if he had won his campaign for Colorado governor, he would have invited Hartle and the film's director, Anthony Hashem, to the governor's mansion to smoke marijuana legally.
Hartle's hilarious and fascinating interview with Tancredo runs about four minutes long in the film. You can watch about 22 seconds of a particularly smokey segment above, in a clip exclusive to The Huffington Post. Download and watch the full documentary here.
Tancredo described his appearance in the documentary in an interview with The Huffington Post. "He forced me in a way to actually complete my promise to him, that I would smoke marijuana with him, although I did not take a puff off the cigarette, the room was so full of smoke I could hardly breathe," Tancredo said. "So every breath I took, I figured I've done it. I'm cool."
Tancredo told Hartle in a 2012 video clip shown in the documentary that he would smoke marijuana with the filmmaker if Amendment 64 passed. The amendment passed, but Tancredo reneged.
Documentary director Hashem said in a press release that Tancredo's eyes were red and that "he was laughing a lot" during the interview. On an elevator after the interview, Hashem said Tancredo told him, with a big grin, "Honestly, I think I caught a little contact buzz."
When asked by HuffPost if he felt effects of marijuana smoke, Tancredo half-seriously answered, "I really don't know. It was so long ago I can't remember what I said about it." He then paused and cracked wise, already laughing, "You know, I have no idea what I was saying, I was completely stoned!"
Marijuana legalization is no joke to Tancredo. The former congressman was deeply critical of his fellow conservatives for not embracing marijuana legalization, which he said he considers rooted in conservative values.
"What really does make me feel a little bit discouraged is this, everybody talks about the importance of freedom, individual responsibility," Tancredo said. "I'm talking both left and right, because I think the left comes off just as constrictive of people's liberty. But in this case, you've got people who call themselves, think of themselves as true conservatives and they want freedom for everybody except for people they don't like or for people that do things they don't think they should do. That is not freedom, in any way, shape or form. We may have won a political battle with legalization, but the philosophical battle continues to be waged."
Tancredo said his support for marijuana legalization probably didn't help him in the governor's race.
"I don't think I got any votes out of supporting this," Tancredo said. "The pro-marijuana crowd either doesn't like me because I don't actually smoke marijuana, or because of my other political issues that they don't agree with, but I did not get a benefit I assure you that."
"Mile High: The Comeback of Cannabis," is available for download here on all mobile devices. The film premieres at Denver's Mayan Theater on July 8 and will play through July 10. On July 9, the documentary screens at The Boulder Theater in Boulder.