Tanc in the Tank for Amendment 64

Tom Tancredo, that unlikeliest of progressive allies, has reiterated his opposition to marijuana prohibition (first announced, if I recall correctly, in a Denver newspaper editorial) and officially endorsed Amendment 64. His endorsement appeared originally in the Colorado Springs Gazette on September 21st, 2012, and has been preserved for posterity on the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol website. An excerpt:

I am endorsing Amendment 64 not despite my conservative beliefs, but because of them.

Throughout my career in public policy and in public office, I have fought to reform or eliminate wasteful and ineffective government programs. There is no government program or policy I can think of that has failed in such a unique way as marijuana prohibition.

Our nation is spending tens of billions of dollars annually in an attempt to prohibit adults from using a substance objectively less harmful than alcohol.

Yet marijuana is still widely available in our society. We are not preventing its use; we are merely ensuring that all of the profits from the sale of marijuana (outside the medical marijuana system) flow to the criminal underground.

Regardless of what ultimately happens on the federal level, we have an opportunity to stop pouring money into a failed system in Colorado. According to the Colorado Center on Law and Policy, we current spend anywhere from $25 to $40 million dollars per year arresting, citing, processing, and prosecuting marijuana offenders throughout the state. A recent report from the Colorado Center on Law and Policy found that savings achieved through eliminating these law enforcement costs, combined with increased tax revenues generated from the legal production and sale of marijuana, would net the state $60 million in the first year alone.

Curiously, this endorsement puts Tancredo somewhere to the left of Governor Hickenlooper, who is still frequently described as a Democrat.

About ProgressiveCowgirl

Colorado native, young professional, progressive cowgirl. 4-term FPE (aka masochist).

25 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. Aristotle says:

    “Curiously, this endorsement puts Tancredo somewhere to the left of Governor Hickenlooper, who is still frequently described as a Democrat.”

    The antidrug people have a curious political power I’ve never been able to understand. I can’t think of any prominent sitting official who ever comes out for ending marijuana prohibition, and I believe it’s because the antidrug forces have deep roots in the political system and somehow hold it over the officials. If they EVER say anything, it’s always pro-prohibition.

    Tanc, for all his terrible politics, is not an elected official anymore and probably never will be again. (I don’t think he was serious about running for governor – that was simply for show.) That grants a person a certain freedom they don’t have as long as they’re pursuing their political career.

    It could be that Tanc has always felt this way about pot, or it could be that this is a recent revelation. All I know is that he was no champion of legalization while in Congress. Someone with more time and research skill than me can probably look up his voting record – I’d bet anyone a dollar that he consistently voted for the most stringent drug prohibition measures that ever came up while he was in office.

    • ProgressiveCowgirl says:

      I remember hearing him defend prohibition while he was in office — he was my Congressman and I was dabbling in Republican party involvement at the time, being too young to drive myself and therefore limited to the events selected by my then-Republican parental unit.

      I’m just more than a little sick of the phenomenon you mention, and I don’t really think it’s because of prohibitionists’ extraordinary influence. I think Democrats just don’t have the courage to defend something that’s gross and embarrassing, and Republicans aren’t smart enough to take the issue over and take advantage of it. (Or are profiting from the private prison system, says my inner conspiracy theorist.)

      Pot is gross and people who smoke a lot of pot tend to act stupidly. I agree that pot is gross. I don’t touch alcohol, marijuana, or cigarettes, myself. I get that most electeds just don’t really want to deal with being on the side of gross and stupid. But if gross and stupid are right, they’re bloody well right, and I’d like to see Democrats show a little courage about that.

      • GalapagoLarry says:

        Dems openly state the following things are gross and stupid, and they don’t support them:

        – having a sleeping Mexican statuette in your front yard;

        – clipping your dog’s ears;

        – declawing your cat;

        – decorating your mailbox with cattle horns;

        – serving lime jello with mini-marshmallows in it;

        – bragging how wasted you got last night;

        – explaining your shiner proves your boyfriend really loves you;

        – scratching you’re buttcrack while serving breakfast;

        – picking your nose and scraping the snot off your fingernail onto your teeth… .

        Of course, having never done any of these things, I support these Dem planks and self righteously proclaim such activities gross and stupid.

      • GalapagoLarry says:

        All Dem politicians should campaign on the promise to outlaw all the above activities.

        • ProgressiveCowgirl says:

          I’m for marijuana legalization, explicitly so, and am much more disgusted by the failure of electeds to do the right thing than I am by marijuana itself. But nothing is gained by ignoring the fact that it’s not a magical sacrament that will turn you into Jimi Hendrix, any more than beer is. There are legitimate reasons that people don’t want their kids or their spouses suddenly starting to use pot if it becomes legal.

          Those of us who are for legalization will only win by making sure that the folks against it feel that their concerns are heard. I’ve had about a million arguments on this topic, and I’ve never won one by demanding that the other person acknowledge that marijuana is fuckin’ fantastic and has absolutely no negative side effects. That’s simply untrue. It’s safer than alcohol and will absolutely never kill you, unlike alcohol. There’s no reason to prohibit it, but that doesn’t mean it’s a good thing–it’s a recreational choice that, like all other relatively safe recreational choices, should be left up to the adult individual. It scares people out of supporting legalization when they get the impression that marijuana advocates want their kids to start smoking pot.

          • GalapagoLarry says:

            I haven’t smoked the weed for years. But where the hell do you  get

            the impression that marijuana advocates want their kids to start smoking pot


            Maybe they’d rather they smoke pot than drink alcohol, but I can’t help thinking most folks would rather their kids did neither. Had I kids, I sure would.

            And I’d absolutely caution them against putting raisins in cole slaw. Talk about gross and stupid. (Which, by the way, is my point.)

            • Voyageur says:

              And I’d absolutely caution them against putting raisins in cole slaw. Talk about gross and stupid. (Which, by the way, is my point.)

                raisins are good tasting and healthy.  Just don’t put them in your brownies if you also put marijuana in the Brownie because raisins make you smart and ingesting pot makes you stupid, so you’re just canceling out your conflicting efforts.

            • ProgressiveCowgirl says:

              There is a very distinct impression among that demographic that the legalization advocates are people who profit from MMJ who are eager to open MMJ sales up and make them just MJ sales, and that will make it (somehow) easier for them to sell to kids even though the law doesn’t make it legal for under-18s. But, given that the tobacco industry was sued and ended up basically admitting that they were marketing to under-18s intentionally, that’s not entirely a far-fetched suspicion, and it’s one the other side is busy encouraging.

              When I talk to these people–as I do, fairly often–I hear from them that they don’t want their kids to take “safer than alcohol” as “you should use this instead of alcohol.” They’d rather, like you said, see their kids use neither. I originally liked the pro-64 ad that shows a college student talking to her parents about marijuana use, but after actually talking to a few people in my parents’ age range who oppose it, I think those ads are sending the wrong message.

              We do need to combat the ridiculous “reefer madness” fears that aren’t based in reality, but not without at least acknowledging that excessive marijuana use is a bad habit, albeit not as dangerous a habit as excessive alcohol use.  

            • parsingreality says:

              I remember reading an interview with the Colonel a few years after he sold the chain to Heublin.  He was appalled at putting carrots in the coleslaw and an number of other changes.  He said, “I regret selling to Heublin.  If I hadn’t, we’d be smaller, sure, but a lot better.”  Paraphrased, obviously.

              Full Disclosure: When KFC was still pretty small they opened a store here in Sarasota, very early sixties. At the grand opening, there was the Colonel, and he looked exactly like his images.  I remember my mother talking to him for a moment, don’t think I said anything.  

              Man, I’m ready for the history books of pop culture!

    • Diogenesdemar says:

      run for Governor was highly indicitive of his support for illicit drug use . . . ??

    • Canines says:


      Tancredo has a 99% favorable rating from the American Conservative Union and has typically voted in favor of drug war spending, especially as it relates to border security. As a states’ rights advocate, however, he has voted in favor of congressional amendments that would have barred the Justice Department from prosecuting medical marijuana patients and providers in states where it is legal.


      In 2009, Tancredo suggested that we ought to investigate drug legalization as a way of countering drug war violence:


      Really, I don’t think marijuana legalization has necessarily been a left vs. right issue since the ’60s. I’m a bit perplexed when I read something like Tancredo’s position on marijuana puts him “somewhere to the left of Governor Hickenlooper.” There have been liberals and conservatives who have notably spoken in favor of law reform, and Democratic and Republican lawmakers who have been historically atrocious on the issue.

    • MtSherman says:

      …of voters. The reason that almost every prominent sitting official has been against ending marijuana prohibition is that a solid majority of voters have been against it. It may finally be different this year, but the last time an initiative like this came to a vote, Amendment 44 in 2006, it only got 41.08% of the vote. That is not exactly a popular position.

      When, and I suspect it will be a when rather than if, polling gets past the margin of error area and such initiatives start winning at the polls then sitting politicians will be for legalizing marijuana.

      I suspect that Amendment 64 will come close this year. My impression of what people say to pollsters vs. what they do in the voting booth means that Amendment 64 will get about 46-49% of the vote.

  2. parsingreality says:

    A year ago he married a women he knew fifty years ago who is a nurse practitioner in Mendocino County.  Like many residents she has hugely augmented her income with pot growing. It is THE business in the area.  The police don’t care.

    People advertise things like growing lamps, plant pruning services.  At the Fourth of July parade, some guy marched down Main Street with a big, budded plant in a wheel barrow.  

    Just local color.

    My brother claims that it’s effectively legal to grow the pot, and it’s legal to sell the pot through the dispenseries, it’s just illegal to transport it!  

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