DeGette Stands Up For Colorado Voters, Hickenlooper Not So Much

ABC News follows up on the passage of Amendment 64, legalizing marijuana in Colorado:

Voters in Colorado and Washington pushed the limits even further when they approved ballot measures Tuesday allowing adults over 21 to possess small amounts of marijuana under state regulation and taxation.

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper has said Colorado will respect the will of voters but added that he was awaiting word from the U.S. Department of Justice on how to proceed.

“In a situation like this, where our law is at loggerheads with federal law, my primary job is to listen first,” the governor said.

Hickenlooper opposed the ballot measure and has downplayed the likelihood of a commercial marijuana market materializing in Colorado.

“Based on federal law, if it’s still illegal under federal law, I can’t imagine that 7-Eleven is ever going to sell it,” he said.

In a Denver paper editorial today, we’re told of a new amendment to the federal Controlled Substances Act proposed by Rep. Diana DeGette that would simply exempt state laws regarding pot. It’s odd to learn of such a thing from an editorial as opposed to a news story, but we expect advocates for Amendment 64 will be happy to see it nonetheless.

So where does that leave Gov. Hickenlooper? Considerably less proactive, folks.

Hickenlooper’s first response to the passage of Amendment 64 was to warn proponents “don’t break out the Cheetos and gold fish too quickly.” Hickenlooper probably thought he was being cute, but doesn’t that seem a little insulting to the 53% of Colorado voters who approved this? Certainly not all of those voters were pot smokers with the munchies–they had other, more serious reasons for voting to legalize marijuana.

Like ending a failed policy that has needlessly criminalized millions of people.

On Friday, Gov. Hickenlooper and state Attorney General John Suthers, who has pledged to implement Amendment 64, had an inconclusive phone call with U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder. Again, Amendment 64’s advocates are showing restraint in their public comments, but there is a sense that Hickenlooper is almost hoping the feds will put the kibosh on Amendment 64, and is purposefully not doing enough to support the will of the voters here.

With all of that in mind, and especially given Gov. Hickenlooper’s charge to uphold the will of Colorado voters–more directly his responsibility than DeGette’s–we think he should strongly consider adopting a more aggressive stand. We certainly aren’t downplaying the conflict between state and federal law, obviously that’s the 800-pound gorilla in the room.

But for Gov. Hickenlooper to more or less insult an electoral majority, while meekly awaiting the edict of federal law enforcement on Amendment 64, makes him appear feckless and contemptuous of the same Colorado voters who elected him–even more of whom, we are obliged to point out, voted to legalize marijuana than voted for John Hickenlooper in 2010.

Bottom line: on this issue, like marriage equality for gay and lesbian people, reproductive rights for women, and sane immigration reform, we see a new majority consensus emerging with generational change. The issues aren’t related except in the respect that the voters are really beginning now to act against what they see as wrong–and reject politicians who don’t.

Which side do you think Hickenlooper should be on?

62 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. harrydoby says:

    I voted against MMJ when it first came out because I didn’t think it would be practical to implement.  And why pick a fight with the Feds?

    So now that we’ve gotten past that hurdle, I was happy to vote for 64 — to start the process of ending the failed drug policy that has diverted untold billions into the legal system that could be better used for education, infrastructure, etc.  Not to mention the cost to those whose lives have been upended by their “crime”.

  2. ProgressiveCowgirl says:

    He doesn’t really stand for much of anything, so it takes him by surprise when the voters DO, and when said voters jump to the head of the parade.

    Hope he gets his shit together — two years of getting sent a continuous stream of progressive legislation should help. He can’t veto it all.

  3. G Pulviczek says:

    He prefers to get high on fracking fluid.

  4. gaf says:

    Will our Congressional delegation respect the voter instructions they just got from an overwhelming majority (over 73%) to support and pass a constitutional amendment to limit campaign contributions and expenditures? Will our legislators respect those instructions?

    Am 65 did not get the attention from the press–it just got resounding support from the public which recognizes the importance of the issue. May our elected officials–including DeGette–listen and respond on this topic as well.  

    • Albert J. Nock says:

      Pardon my ignorance; was #65 a legislator Referred measure or a citizen Initiative?

      • Gray in Mountains says:

         your ignorance was pardoned for the first several posts. Beyond that now

        • Albert J. Nock says:

          the answer to my question.

          #65 was proposed by Colorado Common Cause, not the legislator. This is relevant because #64 was also proposed by a group other than the legislator.

          Elected officials tend to respect and obey legislator referred measures more than initiatives. Elected officials also respect ballot measures near and dear to their heart (pocketbook) more than issues they do not approve of or benifit from.

          • BlueCat says:

            you were just too lazy to look it up yourself on the old intertubes. Guess you finally decided to get off your ass, thus learning a valuable life lesson. You should send Gray a thank you note.

          • parsingreality says:

            Not legislator.

            The first is the body, the second is one body within the larger body.  

          • Voyageur says:

            #65 was proposed by Colorado Common Cause, not the legislator. This is relevant because #64 was also proposed by a group other than the legislator.

              The work you are looking for is legislature, the common term for the Colorado General Assembly.  “the legislator” as you called it refers to a single member of the General Assembly.  There are 100 legislators in the Legislature: 65 in the House of Representatives and 35 in the Senate.

              Now, go back to reading “Mein Kampf.”  Your skinhead study group has a test on it Wednesday.

      • Littletonian says:

        because the answer is self-evident. In Colorado, “amendments” are all citizen initiatives. Legislature-referred measures are designated “referenda” and are lettered rather than numbered.

        • Gray in Mountains says:

          bedaus I had already imparted some culinary information. It will be up to someone else to remind him when he has soiled himself

        • gaf says:

          Ballot issues can be amendments to the constitution (“amendment”) or changes in statue (“proposition”). Either can be referred by the legislature or initiated by the citizens. Additionally, citizens can petition to have a referendum on a statute passed by the legislature (unless it was passed with the “emergency clause”).

          From C.R.S. 1-40-115:

          Ballot issues referred by the general assembly or any political subdivision are listed by letter, and ballot issues initiated by the people are listed numerically. A ballot issue listed as an ‘amendment’ proposes a change to the Colorado constitution, and a ballot issue listed as a ‘proposition’ proposes a change to the Colorado Revised Statutes.

  5. parsingreality says:

    ……could work well for him when he runs again.  The strongly pro-64 people aren’t going to vote for a fascist Republican, and Hick can get the middle voters by saying, “You know I wasn’t for 64, but see, I am following law and the constitution.”

    It’s win-win for him.  

    • allyncooper says:

      He effectively fell into the governor’s chair courtesy of the self destructive proclivities of the opposition party (latest example is ex – speaker McNulty). He needs his feet held to the fire.

      • parsingreality says:

        The good news about Hick ( and Ritter) is/was that they aren’t righties.  Hick (and Ritter) may not be the ideal governor progressives and liberals many of us would prefer – speaking as an ex-Coloradan, of course – but far better them than any Republican governor.

        I’d rather have a frack drinking, ethanol purveying, slow to move on 64 Democratic guv in the mansion than any Republican.  At least he can be approached.  

        • allyncooper says:

          Hick’s not really a mystery to me at all. He was put up as Mayor of Denver to primarily serve the business/corporate interests in Denver. Remember, the corporate interests in Denver have to back a Democrat because backing a Republican would be a waste of time and money.  Then he assumed the governors office without any real scrutiny.

          He represents the corporatist faction in the Democratic party, that’s where he came from and that’s where he’s at. In the 2010 election I left the selection for governor blank on my ballot. Nothing since has made me regret that decision.  

  6. GalapagoLarry says:

    Where he’s always been. Hick is Colorado’s own Mittens: “whatever” gets him there.

    Hell, Hick could have been mayor of Delta–or Wray or Pueblo or…– and a damned good one. Good mayor’s are administratively competent and don’t piss off a relatively homogenous electorate. Good governors lead. Good governors search out and embrace smart innovation. Good governors represent and protect a diverse citizenry. Good governors aren’t empty wet shirts.

    Hick for president? How many times have you heard, “Super Bowl! Super Bowl! Super Bowl!”  after a Bronco win in pre-season?

    • BlueCat says:

      Hick lives in the middle where his non-threatening, good natured, non-partisan, certainly not strongly Dem identified, kind of dorky persona assures broad appeal or at least acceptance.

      A center right Indie or true moderate R can feel that he’s really more of an old fashioned Main St. Eisenhower Republican and Dems can feel that at least he’s not a Republican and is on the progressive side where stuff like the right to chose and freedom to marry are concerned. And it’s not as if all Dems are for legalization either.

      Why rock anyone’s boat? The cute positive ad, all sunshiny, non-controversial approach has served him very,very well.

      • BlueCat says:

        I don’t agree that Hick is our own mittens. I think he really is pretty much an old style Eisenhower Republican with progressive social views which makes the Dem party the natural place for him by default. I haven’t noticed him changing what he says he believes every 15 minutes like Mittens.

        • Gilpin Guy says:

          He came to Gilpin during his 2010 campaign and when questioned about the pine beetle epidemic duly repeated what he had been told and had no interest in listening to local concerns or solutions.  It was the “No hope to stop things” message delivered without any comprehension or questioning of his sources.

          Ritter’s efforts to promote of Colorado as a new center for renewable energy has been wasted by Hickenlooper.  He drank the fracking fluid of his past and squandered a unique opportunity to create a vibrant new industry in our backyards.  It needed to be nutured and he fumbled it.  Now they are pulling out or shutting down.

          Hickenlooper might run in 2016 for president but he has none of the imagination or insight into the issues of our times that the current president possesses.  Even if Hickenlooper could get elected president it would be a big step down from what we’ve currently got.

        • parsingreality says:

          You say well, in a different way, what I was trying to get across.  

        • GalapagoLarry says:

          Ok, so you weren’t speaking to me. But…

          I wasn’t referring to any flip-flopping by the Hick. Sorry I wasn’t clearer. And you weren’t at fault for not reading my mind. So many wonderful Romney traits to infer!

          What I think Hickenlooper’s trademark is, is emptiness. Except the political dipstick says he’s about a quart over-full of petro products. As was with the Mittster: Who is this guy Hickenlooper? Does he actually stand for anything toward which he can lead our state? I mean, I’m now showering with my clothes on, but is that all?

          And Eisenhower? Aaaargh. Eisenhower was a revered leader, and Eisenhower Republicans (of which I was old enough to believe I was one–before voting age) valued, if nothing else, strong, up-front, intelligent leadership. The Hick? Not so much.

          • BlueCat says:

            I only meant that I don’t think Hick’s a Mittens like flip flopper. Very light weight? Absolutely.  And I’m old enough(not by much) to remember Eisenhower. I was 10 when Kennedy was elected, 11 when he was sworn in and the Eisenhowers and were still around and much mentioned for a good while after and, yes,  Hick is no Eisenhower. Wow. Not by a long, long shot. Even though my staunchly Democratic family never voted for Eisenhower, they respected him and couldn’t help liking him, too.  

    • Voyageur says:

      Hell, Hick could have been mayor of Delta–or Wray or Pueblo

        Just for a day, mind you.  Lovely town, Wray, on what we call the Republican Riviera.  That’s because of the Republican River, not the party.  And btw, the river is named after the Republican Sioux, not the party.   Early explorers wrongly believed some Sioux had a republican form of government.

      • GalapagoLarry says:

        No snark: That’s neat, the mayoral bit. (Did you fire all the union public employees? Why else be mayor, right?)

        As for the Republican, it’s great birding country. From Bonnie on it’s so much lower elevation than a lot of Colorado, you start seeing “eastern” birds. Tent camped at Bonnie in February once. The eerie sound of ice groaning all night is one of my most vivid camping memories.

  7. Whiskey Lima Juliet says:

    Right now Hick looks like he supporting the racially offensive issue of arresting and harassing black and brown people In Colorado.  We make up less than 11% of the population Denver and less than 3% in the state. We account for almost 35% of arrest for possession and 22% for cultivation.  Each year 10,000 Coloradoans are arrest for possession.  This is how we will paint any politician that stands in the way of the will of the people, Including the mayor.

    A64 passed with 65.93% in Denver and 55% in Colorado. Hick will be compared to Washington and their elected officials that have the support of law enforcement.

    In Washington state, a spokesman for Gov. Chris Gregoire said this week that Gregoire would respect the will of the people. Prosecutors in Washington’s largest counties dropped all pending misdemeanor cases of marijuana possession Friday in response to that state’s vote to legalize the drug.

    Hick and city attorney, Doug Freidnash have decided not to do that, at least as of today.  I am sure by Monday they will look like such hypocrites they may have no choice.  But be aware, they did not choose to lead!  They had to be forced into doing the right thing.

    I think Hick is walking into disgraceful territory on basic race relations.  He is standing against the will of the people and the NAACP. Seems like a stupid political move to me.

    • GalapagoLarry says:

      Economic issue.

      And I don’t mean sales taxes and license fees.

      Incarceration–beyond its own costs–debilitates a person’s keeping, finding and (repeat) keeping a job, supporting his/her self and family and passing on a self-sustaining “work ethic” to children. It’s a downward spiraling push into all sorts of welfare/health/education programs which we must support with–guess what–taxes. Taxes beyond those with which we support the police and judicial system to enforce prohibition.

      For weed? Good grief. Prohibition > incarceration > economic stupidity.

  8. Whiskey Lima Juliet says:

    3 million people In America voted to legalize marijuana.

    Colorado 1,250,000

    Washington 1,056,000

    Oregon 700,000 ( did not pass, but 700,000 voted yes)

    18 states and DC have medical marijuana.  Massachusetts passed with almost 65%

    Arkansas lost, but the vote was 48%! In the Bible Belt!

    America has sent a mandate.  If Hick and Hancock want to keep their jobs, I suggest they look at the will of the voters.  There is NO QUESTION where America is headed.

    And BTW, pot got 50,000 more votes than Obama.  I am sure the White House took notice of that.  So, I don’t think the Federal response will be what Hick, Suthers and Hancock are hoping for!

    Diana Degette’s response is great, it shows her staff can read election results and 66% in Denver made Ms. DeGette’s decision for her.

  9. Gray in Mountains says:

    here and elsewhere for not having town hall type meets etc. She does however, I believe, represent her district very well and this is a great example. She really deserves props for this

  10. sxp151 says:

    In the days before the election, Gary Johnson came to Boulder campaigning as the only supporter of Amendment 64 and trying to get Obama backers to support him. I got three or four messages from his campaign that started with “Hello fellow Democrat!” and I never get called except to be asked for money.

    There was speculation that Johnson would hurt Obama, but even in Boulder he got less than 2% of the vote.

    While people may support marijuana legalization, I think there are very few who are so strongly single-issue that it’s going to make them change their minds about politicians they’d otherwise support. Hickenlooper’s opposition to legalization will not substantially hurt him.

    • Whiskey Lima Juliet says:

      Hick is in danger of being seen as not supporting the wil of the people and standing with racist policies.

      Johnson had no shot of winning and the voters in Boulder are educated voters and knew that.  I agree that no one is voting on one issue and Gary ONLY had one issue.  He never discussed anything else. That is bad campaigning.

    • G Pulviczek says:

      Sure, if it was just marijuana, his opposition would not hurt him.   But his enthusiastic anti-populist support of fracking will pile on. And it remains to be seen what he’ll do with a fully Democratic legislature.

      He has one chance (this coming session) not to blow it.  We’ll see.

    • rexxcrowbar says:

      Agreed.  If some choose to campaign against him based on that it likely will bring more voters to support him.  He is the favorite of the middle of the road voters.

    • Canines says:

      I found it interesting that Attorney General Holder, at least, didn’t speak out against the marijuana initiatives in Washington and Colorado (he’d previously spoken out against California’s). There had been so many articles in so many varied publications saying that the Colorado marijuana initiative could help or hurt Obama, the administration had to have wondered, at least, if it was true about marijuana support going to Johnson. The local Anti-64 campaign put pressure on the administration to speak out against Amendment 64; as did several former heads of the DEA. For the most part, the Obama administration remained silent. Although not securing all that many votes in the grand scheme of things, Libertarian Johnson got 30,000 or so votes in Colorado in 2012 as compared with Libertarian Bob Barr’s 10,000 or so in 2008.  

  11. Whiskey Lima Juliet says:

    Congressional staffers told the Independent that Colorado Reps Diana DeGette (CD1), Ed Perlmutter (CD7) and Jared Polis (CD2) are working independently and together on bills that would exempt states where pot has been legalized from the Controlled Substances Act.

    DeGette Chief of Staff Lisa Cohen told the Independent that proposals the representatives are working on would alter section 903 of the act to allow states to establish their own marijuana laws free from federal preemption.

    How bad is Hick looking now?

    • parsingreality says:

      As several of us have said, in different ways, he looks pretty good to the middle of the road Coloradans.  The lukewarm supporters of 64, the lukewarm opponents of 64.  He is, as he should be, moving forward, albeit cautiously.

      He would lose far more votes in two years if he had enthusiastically supported 64 and charged full steam ahead.  It’s not like 64 won in a landslide.

      He may need a little cajoling and pushing, but he is not, at this time, denying “the will of the people.”

      • Whiskey Lima Juliet says:

        Washington State has dropped all charges on anyone with pot possession. And they did it immediately. He is calling the DOJ, looking to the republican AG  for direction. is this the leadersh expected from a democratic governor? Especially if he thinks he wants to run as a Democratic President.  Lets see what happens on Tuesday.

        He is a democrat, we overwhelmingly voted for this.  He has Fracking issues, issues with appointing a republican to Colorado Supreme Court, and now moving slow on a racist policy the people have rejected, by a political landslide and one that the Colorado NAACP supported wholeheartedly.

        • parsingreality says:

          See how it plays out in the next week.  You have Hick tried and convicted only a few days after the election. It’s like if the first stores aren’t open Tuesday he’s been stonewalling.

          And none of your angst negates the fact that he remains highly re-electable.  So if he isn’t making this his first priority, you and the other 64 backers are going to vote for………?

          FWIW, I, personally, don’t think five points above or below the 50-50 point is a landslide.  It’s a solid victory, for sure.  Landslide, to me, means something like 65-35. Two to one, essentially.

          • Whiskey Lima Juliet says:

            For me this is personal.  Members of my family have felony convictions for pot arrests.  It is hard not see people you know doing things politically, that you know they don’t feel personally.

            This isn’t just about Hick, it is about Obama and Debbie Wasserman.  Pelosi is in support. It is difficult to see democrats not in full support of ending 80 years beatings, murders, harassment and lives destroyed over a felony arrest when your life is just beginning over pot.  

            I am sorry if I am being forceful on this, but I just don’t understand why Washington’s  leadership has shown great forward thinking, as have DeGette, Polis and Perlmutter, and Colorado’s democratic leadership is slow to move and asking for direction from the DOJ.

          • Voyageur says:

            But that is in a partisan race, and a national election, where party loyalty keeps it close.  McGovern and Goldwater lost by 60/40, the modern records.

              However, on a non-partisan issue like marijuana, I agree with you that 55/45, while a healthy margin, is no landslide.   It is, however, a rare sign of emerging common sense.

  12. Whiskey Lima Juliet says:

    “Although the South Metro Drug Task Force continued to accomplish an important drug enforcement mission, the Board of Directors, comprised of regional Sheriffs and Police Chiefs, determined that the task force would disband effective November 30, 2012.”

    Ok, Hick, whatcha going do?

  13. Whiskey Lima Juliet says:

    “What happened on Tuesday was a game changer,” drug analyst Alejandro Hope from the Mexican Institute for Competitiveness told Time. “Now it would be very hard for the U.S. to tell people not to legalize marijuana.”

    Even prior to Tuesday, prominent voices including America’s closest South American allies, President Obama’s drug czar Gil Kerlikowske, Former President of Mexico Vincente Fox, Prime Minister of Canada Stephen Harper, The Global Commission on Drug Policy and the Council on Hemispheric Affairs have stated that the U.S.-led drug policy of criminalizing drug use and employing military tactics to fight traffickers has been a failure.

    So the U.S. government faces a dilemma: does it double down on a decades-long losing war or accept failure and rethink it’s position on drugs, especially its extreme stance on marijuana?

    Read more:

  14. st0ry says:

    He’s pretty much been a No-Show in the leadership department, well unless you consider bending over and taking it from the oil and gas industry leadership.

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