Neither of the leading candidates in Colorado's gubernatorial race supports legal pot in their state. The Democratic incumbent, John Hickenlooper, said the 2012 vote that allowed recreational pot was "reckless" (it passed with 55 percent of the vote). His Republican challenger, former congressman Bob Beauprez, says "we are at that point" where it should be recriminalized.
They're part of the growing anti-pot backlash that is seeking to stamp out not recreational pot in Colorado and Washington but medical marijuana in the many states that allow it.
And yet by virtually any measure, legal pot in Colorado has been a success: Crime, especially murder, is down in the Denver area, where most legal pot is sold. Automobile fatalites are down statewide. Tax revenues, while lower than originally estimated, are growing every month and will kick in up to $70 millin new dollars to various jurisdictions. There isn't data yet for this year, but the rate of pot use among teenagers in Colorado was lower in 2013 than in 2001, when the state introduced medical marijuana.
Hickenlooper and Beauprez may be fishing for votes that don't exist—one recent poll shows that just 42 percent of Coloradoans iike legalization while another recent poll shows 55 percent still favor it—or they may just be stuck in an old mind-set.
Either way, I argue in a new Time column, legal pot is only going to become more widespread. That's despite alarmists such as Patrick Kennedy of the anti-pot group Project SAM and the endless stream of invective against legal weed. We've grown up as a country and are now ready to add pot to our list of legal intoxicants. That's a victory (a big one) for freedom and the 750,000 people a year who get arrested for pot.
This much seems certain: In a world where adults can openly buy real pot, you're also less likely to read stories headlined "More People Hospitalized by Bad Batch of Synthetic Marijuana." And support for legalization isn't fading. The market research firm Civic Science finds that 58% of Americans support laws that "would legalize, tax, and regulate marijuana like alcohol."
That figure obviously doesn't include either candidate for governor of Colorado. But just like the rest of the country, whoever wins that race will have to learn to live with pot being legal, crime being down, traffic fatalities declining and fewer teens lighting up.
I debated Kennedy about legalization in CNN earlier this year. Watch below: