During a recent HuffPost Live segment debating whether or not Colorado is ready for Amendment 64 -- which legalized marijuana for recreational use in the state -- to become law, Paul Chabot, former White House drug czar advisor under Presidents Bush and Clinton, said "trickery" was the reason the measure passed in the Centennial State and that initiatives like A64 need to be repealed to "save Colorado and their youth."
"Look, when the population hears both sides equally, they'll make the right choice," Chabot says in the video above, presumably suggesting that the "right" choice from his point of view would be to keep marijuana illegal.
"The problem is we're being out-funded and out-gunned by wealthy billionaires who are buying ad campaigns and using trickery in their words talking about all this nonsense," Chabot continued. "I think local governments in Colorado -- responsible local governments -- are looking at this and saying this is not something we want in our communities and at the end of the day we've got to repeal these kind of drug legalization efforts to really save Colorado and their youth."
"Look, what we have to come back to is one solid point," Chabot concluded: "What kind of community, what kind of state, what kind of nation do we want to raise our kids in today?"
Well, the voters in Colorado have already answered Chabot's question in an overwhelmingly clear fashion -- they want a Colorado where marijuana is legal for both medical and recreational purposes. The voters voiced that opinion by passing Amendment 64 in November 55-45 -- 1,291,771 Coloradans voted in favor of A64, 53,281 more than voted for President Barack Obama in the state.
Chabot's statements on pot should come as no surprise as he recently compared marijuana to child pornography on another recent HuffPost Live segment.
"You know, it's shocking that this gentleman can actually say the voters of Colorado have been tricked," Veronica Carpio, owner of the Front Tea & Art Shop in Lafayette, Colo., said to Chabot on HuffPost Live. "These people read the blue book just like we all did and made our own decisions whether we wanted to vote or not."
Carpio added: "Regarding our kids being corrupted and growing up around marijuana -- what's different now than it was before while it was illegal except for that we all had to hide it. Now at least we can educate our children, the schools can be more of an educational role where they (children) start understanding the difference between medical, recreational and that it's still illegal for them to possess it."
Tom Angell, chairman of marijuana policy reform group Marijuana Majority, shared Carpio's sentiments.
"Unfortunately for Paul Chabot, the fact is that after decades of government-funded anti-marijuana propaganda, the public is just now starting to hear both sides of this argument, and they are making the right choice," Angell said to The Huffington Post. "The people of Colorado and Washington spoke clearly on Election Day. They want to raise their kids in a community that effectively regulates marijuana instead of one where drug dealers, gangs and cartels reap billions of dollars in tax-free profits through a violent illegal trade."
Mason Tvert, co-director of the pot advocacy group that backed Amendment 64 and is now communications director for the Marijuana Policy Project, had strong words for Chabot, comparing him to a long line of politicians who have been behind marijuana prohibition for decades. Tvert told The Huffington Post:
Paul is clearly less evolved on the issue of marijuana policy than the millions of voters in Colorado and around the nation who recognize that marijuana prohibition has failed, but you have to give him his due. When the history books are written, he will be right up there with Harry Anslinger, Richard Nixon, Bill Bennett and John Walters in terms of perpetuating the scam of marijuana prohibition in this country. These men have been responsible for spending hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars to keep a substance far less harmful than alcohol illegal. They have used intimidation, not only in the form of what we saw in this video, but also in the form or arrests, coercion, forced treatment, and propaganda to exaggerate the harms of marijuana so that they can continue to punish responsible adult marijuana consumers.
Marijuana policy has been at the forefront of Colorado news and politics for the better part of a decade. Apparently Paul thinks Coloradans were too stupid to process this information and cast their votes. That must have also been the case with the the majority of the 100-plus million total voters in the 18 states (plus D.C.) that have adopted laws protecting medical marijuana patients from arrest and prosecution. As someone who has run for office – and who touts his second-place finish on his website as a demonstration of popular support – one would think Paul would have a greater appreciation for the democratic process.
Angell and Tvert also called out the premise of the HuffPost Live discussion which implied that the fact that the regulatory framework outlined in Amendment 64 is currently being discussed and hammered out by interested parties involved in Gov. John Hickenlooper's marijuana Task Force is somehow a sign that Colorado is "not ready for marijuana law."
"I was a little taken aback by the video's premise that Colorado is somehow 'not ready' for marijuana legalization because the regulations are still being worked out," Angell told The Huffington Post. "This is how public policy works: voters or legislators pass a law and then regulators work to implement it effectively."
Tvert added: "Colorado and Washington made it clear on Election Day that they want to replace prohibition with a more sensible system of regulation. Public officials in the two states are now carrying out the implementation processes enumerated by the laws and envisioned by the voters. Once they are implemented, and assuming they are not interfered with, we will be able to determine whether they present a better approach than the prohibition policies Paul and his predecessors have fought to maintain for the past 80 years. Given the exceptionally low bar for success the prohibitionists have established, I am confident they will."