Coloradans Are Cool With Smoking Pot — Unless You’re a Politician

Voters think the state’s marijuana experiment is going well.

Two joints are displayed during a joint rolling class at Hempfest on April 20, 2014 in Seattle, Washington.
National Journal
April 29, 2014, 7:51 a.m.

A new poll from Quin­nipi­ac Uni­versity found that Col­or­ado res­id­ents are cool with their state’s new marijuana law. But that hardly means they’re ready to sup­port politi­cians who take ad­vant­age of it.

The Col­oradans sur­veyed had a rosy view of the state’s marijuana-leg­al­iz­a­tion law, which went in­to ef­fect Jan. 1. Most voters think the law will bring tax rev­en­ue in­to the state — in­deed, the state is pro­jec­ted to raise nearly $100 mil­lion from marijuana sales this year. They also be­lieve the law has helped Col­or­ado’s crim­in­al-justice sys­tem, and that it “in­creases per­son­al freedoms in a pos­it­ive way.” Al­most half of voters ad­mit­ted to us­ing marijuana at some point in their lives. While most voters over­all sup­port the law — 54 per­cent to 43 per­cent — the only sub­sets who don’t think the law is good for the state are Re­pub­lic­ans and voters over the age of 65. But to those naysay­ers, most Col­oradans are say­ing, “Don’t harsh my mel­low, bro.”

Still, that doesn’t mean Col­oradans are com­fort­able with the idea of their elec­ted of­fi­cials tok­ing up. More than half of the poll’s re­spond­ents — 52 per­cent — said they’d be less likely to vote for a polit­ic­al can­did­ate who smokes marijuana “two or three days a week.” Forty-three per­cent said a can­did­ate’s marijuana use would not af­fect their vote, while 3 per­cent said it would make them more likely to vote for the can­did­ate.

And it shows there are still rad­ic­ally dif­fer­ent at­ti­tudes to­ward al­co­hol versus marijuana. Just look at Col­or­ado Gov. John Hick­en­loop­er, who was a beer en­tre­pren­eur be­fore he was elec­ted. If a ma­jor­ity of voters were wor­ried about can­did­ates who drink beer “two or three days a week,” we’d be forced to live in an an­arch­ic so­ci­ety.

To be fair, voters hold polit­ic­al can­did­ates to high­er stand­ards than what’s leg­al — or voters’ own mor­al codes. Adul­tery isn’t il­leg­al, either, but it has ended many a polit­ic­al ca­reer non­ethe­less. Oth­er acts of im­pro­pri­ety can have a severe im­pact on how voters view their rep­res­ent­at­ives.

Mor­al rectitude is im­port­ant to voters, and while they can abide by their neigh­bors get­ting blazed after a long day of work, politi­cians might want to lay off the mind-al­ter­ing sub­stances. So sorry, Tommy Chong. Bet­ter luck next elec­tion cycle.

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