Gov. John Hickenlooper will create a task force to deal with the fallout from the state's legalization of marijuana use, possession and sales.
'Fallout.' See, right there you can determine the tone that the Denver Post was encountering from the office of the Governor. Later on...
The task force is to include state officials, lawmakers, marijuana advocates and other "stakeholders" — likely a reference to law-enforcement, drug-treatment and community representatives.
If you're familiar with bureaucracy's little ways, you're probably snickering at that right now. On the other hand, if you also favor legalizing pot then you're probably swearing, instead. On the gripping hand, if you're those two things and ALSO a partisan Republican hack* then you've gone right back to snickering.
The basic quandary here is that John Hickenlooper doesn't want to be The Guy Who Legalized Pot In America. The man undoubtedly has (probably foolish) hopes for higher office**, and pot legalization will pretty much kill that. The Democrats have a lot invested in one-upping the Republicans in the War On Some Drugs, mostly because it helps inoculate them from being considered liberal (i.e., 'soft') on crime. This goes all the way from the top, down: it's no secret that the Obama administration HATES the idea of legalizing pot. Or, more accurately, that it hates the idea of THEM legalizing pot, or any other Democratic administration actually doing that. The federal government is certainly showing no sign of relaxing its stance on the issue, at any rate.
So, what does an ambitious Democratic governor do when dealing with a situation where The People Have Spoken, The [Expletive Deleted]? That's right: he obfuscates. Setting up a 'task force' over pot legalization that's been stacked with groups that can be relied upon to bitterly resent pot legalization is an excellent first step to delaying any kind of implementation whatsoever. So is 'asking for guidance' from the Justice Department, which is code for Get this stupid amendment bogged down in court, already. And that's just the procedural issues. The hoops that Colorado (and probably Washington State) will make pot vendors jump through are likely to be epic. Warning labels? Yup! Big ones. Special malpractice insurance? Big time. A special 'pot tax' to pay for all the increased medical costs from smoking? Ohhhh, yeah. And this is probably going to end up being my favorite one, for given values of 'favorite:' "child-proofing." That phrase covers so, so, so many contingencies. I mean, you don't want kids to be at risk, now?
I note all of this not because I have any particular problem with adults smoking pot (I don't***), but I do have a bit of a problem with young voters mistaking liberalism for libertarianism - and rather more of one with young voters getting upset when they vote for Democrats, and then get the former instead of the latter. Please remember: while liberals may agree with libertarians on some goals, they do not - DO NOT - agree with libertarians on how to accomplish those goals. Liberals do not want less government in our lives. They like the idea of logrolling inconvenient expressions of the will of the People -well, inconvenient to them. And if they don't agree with libertarians on a goal, they will cheerfully steamroller the libertarians like they would any other interest group that isn't a fully-owned subsidiary of the Democratic party.
Put more simply: if you're for legalizing pot, the fact that the Democrats aren't doing anything about that isn't because they can't hear you. They hear you just fine. They just don't care.
Moe Lane (crosspost)
**I know that the reason why I say 'probably foolish' is going to sound weird, but here it is: we've elected exactly one President with a last name with over three syllables, and John Hickenlooper doesn't have Dwight D. Eisenhower's war record. I don't know whether this is a mere statistical coincidence or some profound insight into the nature of American politics, sorry.
***Yes, I've seen the Crowder video on the subject. It's a very good, very well-presented argument against marijuana legalization, which is a controversy that this post is not in point addressing. Please focus.