Republican gubernatorial candidate Tom Tancredo is visiting local marijuana discussion forums, he says, to gain a greater understanding of the issue as legalization has evolved since his last campaign, which he lost.
"I have a feeling no one's going to bring it up this time," Tancredo said. "You know why? Because it's popular in the state and if it were on the ballot, it would pass again."
He doesn't think any of his opponents will make it an issue this go round and says, "If they do, I'm going to ask them, 'Well what do you want to do, repeal it?' This time it'll all be about me being a white racist, Ku Klux Klan, neo-Nazi, you know, whatever possible epithet they can come up with . I don't feel like marijuana will be an issue."
Conservatives aren't known for supporting legalization, and Tancredo calls out his own party for the hypocrisy of that stance.
"I'm well aware how a lot of conservatives feel about (legal marijuana)," he said. "All of us have attacked - rhetorically speaking - when someone makes a law about a 32-ounce Coke or something like that. 'Well, why does the government have to tell me that?'
"It's funny, conservatives want the government out of your life, unless you're doing something they don't want you to do, then it's all OK," he laughed.
Tancredo thinks most voters will look at the past five years of legalization and realize their lives are pretty much the same.
"Marijuana legalization can be blamed for the mass increase in population here, that's the worst thing I can see," he said.
Tancredo can't yet define specifics on how he might push to reform marijuana penalties, but says children who are affected because of parental negligence is a huge concern for him.
"I'm not even talking about the kid who you know gets into the drawer and looks at some gummy bears and says, 'That looks good.' I'm talking about parents who have actually given it to their kids or are so unconcerned that they'll actually imbibe even when it endangers a child," he said. "That, to me, sounds like child endangerment. I think anyone guilty of that should be punished."
Tancredo would also like to see more studies done into whether marijuana legalization is resulting in a reduction in opioid addiction. He sees that as a benefit that should be a bigger part of the ongoing conversation. If elected, he would push to strengthen restrictions on the amount of addictive painkillers a doctor could prescribe.
"We know that these are incredibly dangerous pills," he said. "We know the damage that has been done is extraordinary."