The “Pot Vote” in 2012: Is Colorado the Key?

You have participated in HMJ’s musings on the place of the pot vote in the upcoming election.  Evidently we aren’t the only ones who see this possible eventuality.  Writing in the Huffington Post, Chris Weigant lays out a plausible scenario where the pot vote decides the next presidential race.  Works for me.  Attend:

. . .
“President Obama could energize the youth vote and give a lot of Colorado independents a solid reason to vote for him by announcing during his convention speech that his thinking has “evolved” on the question of marijuana. At the beginning of his term, he seemed to be following through on his campaign promise to leave medical marijuana providers alone as long as they were following applicable state laws. Roughly two years in, this policy was quietly reversed and the Justice Department is now cracking down in multiple states where medical marijuana is legal — to an extent not even the Bush administration did. This year alone, over 40 dispensaries in Colorado have been raided by the Obama administration, even though they were following their state’s laws. This has outraged many medical marijuana supporters across the country — some of whom are adamant that they will not vote for Obama again.

Obama could win these voters back, by announcing during his convention speech “I have authorized Attorney General Holder to reclassify marijuana as a Schedule II controlled dangerous substance, and by doing so will end all federal action against medical marijuana providers, and allow the medical usage of marijuana in any state where the voters choose to approve this. Furthermore, if Colorado approves the legalization of marijuana for all adults to use, I promise that the federal government will not fight this new state law.”

This would indeed be a bold and risky stance for Obama to take. The polling in Colorado might be overly optimistic, and if Amendment 64 is defeated, he may actually hurt his chances for winning the state. Obama has always been extremely sensitive on the issue of marijuana, perhaps because he thinks he’s vulnerable politically for having admitted marijuana use in his past.

But — not unlike gay marriage — times are changing. More and more of the public is currently evolving their own thinking on the marijuana issue. Medical marijuana has higher and higher support (no pun intended), and keeps winning in state after state (much like the route civil unions took). Support for outright legalization stands now at roughly half of the public (almost exactly the same as gay marriage support). There are political risks in Obama throwing his support behind the pro-marijuana movement — but then there were risks to his stance on gay marriage, as well.

If this is truly going to be a “base” election, then Obama will need to excite Democratic groups who might not bother to vote this time around. He has already taken steps to raise enthusiasm among gay rights supporters, Latinos and women. Even so, the polling in Colorado remains neck and neck for Obama. Obama announcing a change in his marijuana policy would not only motivate voters in states across the country, it could also provide the winning edge in a state that might wind up being the crucial must-win state for Obama. Evolving on marijuana could provide the enthusiasm he needs to win Colorado in November — which might just be the key to winning a second term.
I believe you will enjoy Mr. Weignat’s analysis which you can find HERE.

My only additional thought is that I think Mr. Weigant’s analysis works for either candidate.

[image: Google images: Colorado]

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Author: DavidB

a heathen, but hopefully not an unenlightened one

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