Cannabis & Colorado’s Gubernatorial Candidates

Election Day 2014 is approaching and although it is not a presidential election year, it is an important ballot for residents and business owners in the state of Colorado. This year Coloradoans select the next governor, between incumbent Democrat John Hickenlooper and his Republican opposition Bob Beauprez, a former congressman from the state’s 7th district. For members of the cannabis industry community, the two candidates represent a fork in the road towards the future of regulations.

We’ll briefly examine each of Colorado’s gubernatorial candidates in this article, as well as their stances in the media on the state’s legal marijuana. Then, voters in Colorado can make an informed decision about which way to cast their ballots.

According to records on RootsWeb, Bob Beauprez is a native of Colorado who was born to a family of cattle breeders in Lafayette. According to the Beauprez campaign site, he worked for the family farm for 20 years, and then he bought a small bank and turned it into a bigger bank. He then became Chairman of the Colorado Republican Party around the turn of the millennium, and shortly thereafter he served a couple turns in the U.S. House of Representatives for Colorado’s 7th district, ultimately quitting that job to lose a race against Hickenlooper’s gubernatorial predecessor, Bill Ritter. The 66-year-old Beauprez now seeks the governor’s chair once again.

When asked about marijuana, Beauprez usually makes sure to mention that he did not support Amendment 64. The official Beauprez stance on marijuana is listed on his campaign site. “Bob believes the priority of Colorado’s governor should be to make sure the state can pay its bills and you can pay yours,”  right under the heading “Marijuana Legalization.” It goes on to say that he realizes that marijuana is now legal, despite his opposition, and he will focus on enforcing the law. He also goes against Republican ideology by promising more “robust regulations” on the marijuana business.

In a recent debate in Denver between the candidates, Beauprez said that some Coloradoans are abusing medical marijuana, and also that despite it still being illegal to use marijuana in public, it is now being seen all over town.

In another debate in Fort Collins, Bob Beauprez said that Coloradoans should consider whether they have gone too far and should repeal legal recreational marijuana, according to The Huffington Post. The article recounted Beauprez’s meeting with the head of emergency services at the University of Colorado hospital and how he cited the “continuing facts that they are finding, especially about the damage done to young adults’ brains.” These controversial studies on IQ and adolescent marijuana use have recently made the rounds.

John Hickenlooper, though governor on-the-watch when Amendment 64 was passed, was not a supporter of marijuana legalization in Colorado. According to the aforementioned article from The Huffington Post, Hickenlooper has warned other governors about marijuana legalization, as well as suggesting there will be consequences that voters have not considered.

Still, Hickenlooper’s views are more nuanced and less crotchety than Beauprez’s. In the same aforementioned article, Hickenlooper points out that while marijuana legalization is a difficult road for a state to take, it is a result of voters expressing their discontent with an ineffective and costly drug war. Like Beauprez, Hickenlooper thinks there needs to be tighter controls on medical marijuana prescriptions, but according to The Cannabist, he points out that there is still a sacred bond between a doctor and patient that needs to be protected.

Hickenlooper is not a native of Colorado; he was born in Pennsylvania. He has had business roots in this state for many years, co-founding the Wynkoop Brewing Company in Denver in 1988. He was elected mayor of Denver in 2003, and then he ran for governor to fill the spot being vacated by Democrat Bill Ritter in 2010.

For Coloradoan voters invested in the marijuana industry, Hickenlooper has apprehensions about the “experiment” of legalization even though the industry has grown and thrived under his governorship; Beauprez represents an unknown variable with mutterings hostile toward the newly legal recreational market. The industry awaits Colorado’s gubernatorial results on Election Day 2014.

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