The festivities surrounding the 4/20 Rally/Protest/Festival last weekend drew predictable criticism despite the event going relatively smoothly.
But among the detractors were groups, both local and national, hoping to capitalize on the public reaction to the event and the images of countless aficionados smoking openly in Civic Center Park.
Photo Gallery: 4/20 At Civic Center Park
Some of those same opponents are looking to turn up the heat and get the White House to rethink its current position on legalized marijuana in Colorado.
Project SAM, short for Smart Approaches to Marijuana, is against the legalization of pot in Colorado. It’s hoping to convince President Obama that events like the 4/20 festival is evidence that Colorado is crossing the line that the administration set when it was asked how it would approach legalized pot.
In a Denver Post report, Project SAM’s chairman, U.S. Rep. Patrick Kennedy said he has met with federal officials to push them to intervene in Colorado.
While I can understand the problems that groups like Project SAM have with events like the 4/20 rally, the organization is facing an uphill battle to prove that the guidelines that the Obama administration set up are being violated.
The Obama administration said it would leave Colorado and Washington alone if the states ensured that children did not have access and as long as the pot was not crossing state lines. While Colorado’s record on those guidelines has not been perfect, it has not created the Wild West Mardi Gras environment that many pot opponents predicted when Amendment 64 passed.
In fact, events like Mardi Gras will help prove the opposite point that organizations like Project SAM are trying to prove.
Pictures of marijuana fans who smoke in public illegally at one event may not be a scene parents want their kids to see, but those same children will be exposed to far more scenes of public drunkenness than they will to scenes of public pot smoking.
Beyond the hypocrisy on the alcohol point, another major hurdle for opponents is the expected tax revenue coming from recreational pot. It is clear at this point that we’re not talking about Powerball money here anymore, but we’re still taking about millions of new tax dollars that our elected officials are currently trying to figure out how to spend.
For the Obama administration to come in and take those dollars away due to a few potheads smoking in public at a 4/20 rally is a tall order.
The final significant hurdle that Project SAM faces on getting the President to make a move against legal marijuana in Colorado is political reality. The last thing Democratic candidates need in Colorado is a President announcing that it is stepping in on the new law. And it’s the last thing President Obama wants to saddle Democrats with, especially with highly competitive House and Senate races right here in the Centennial State.
More regulation may be needed and Colorado may not have a stellar record on the issue, but the fact is marijuana is legal here and no amount of smiling, smoking faces on April 20 of any year is going to change that.
The sooner opponents realize this reality and start to tackle winnable battles, the sooner they will begin to see positive change they can agree with.