NOREEN: Many non-smokers voted to legalize pot

November 8, 2012
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It is stunning that 53 percent of Colorado voters supported the legalization of marijuana on Tuesday.

We all know that the percentage of pot smokers is far less than that, so obviously, many voted for it for reasons other than an interest in getting high.

Someone voted for it because pot reduced the side effects of Aunt Betty’s chemotherapy. Some voted for it because they couldn’t remember ever hearing about a pot-crazed husband beating up his wife.

Some voted for it because they had grown weary of the shenanigans of state and local officials, who did their best to undermine the medical marijuana initiative approved by 54 percent of Colorado voters in 2000.

That’s right: We have told our officials twice. Twelve years after the first time we told them, the majority is essentially the same.

Governors, the Legislature, an attorney general, district attorneys, county commissioners and city councils responded, in essence, by saying “we don’t care what the election results say because we know what’s best for you.”

Something like this has happened before.

Voters approved the Colorado lottery in 1981 after being told the proceeds would be spent on outdoor recreation, open space and wildlife programs. The brigands in the Legislature fashioned a law that allowed them to spend lottery money on anything, and that’s what they did until 1992, when angry voters fought back, approving Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO), which diverted lottery money back to where it was supposed to go all along.

GOCO “was payback for the legislature,” says landscape photographer and activist John Fielder, who spearheaded the GOCO campaign. Although there is no ideological linkage between GOCO and legalized pot, Fielder sees potential similarities between how government officials broke faith with the voters, circumventing the will of the electorate.

We can’t be sure if Colorado’s pot legalization experiment will become official, because the federal government might intervene. Even if that doesn’t happen, though, consider that the Legislature would have to approve quite a few laws in the 2013 session and as we have seen, anytime a new revenue stream is created, lawmakers are prone to mischief.

Elected officials from El Paso County and Colorado Springs already are making negative statements about Amendment 64. It is true there are many unanswered questions concerning the poorly drafted amendment.

But if you think Colorado’s elected officials are sincere about heeding the will of the electorate on this, a certain columnist would like to sell you a controlling interest in Pikes Peak.

Listen to Barry Noreen on KRDO NewsRadio 105.5 FM and 1240 AM at 6:35 a.m. on Fridays and follow him on Twitter and Facebook. Contact him at 719-636-0363 or


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