Marijuana: Would Amendment 64 hurt or help Colorado tourism?
|Photo by Sam Levin|
|Gary Johnson in Denver this summer.|
So here's what I'm saying all across the country. What's going to happen in Colorado if Colorado votes yes on this: Everybody in the entire country is gonna get on an airplane and go to Denver and chill out. Everybody else is going to pick up on that, and Colorado won't be the [only state] for long. I would always say this in New Mexico to those that would say, look, we are going to become the drug mecca for the world. You mean the millions of entrepreneurs, scientists, doctors and professionals that would move to New Mexico for legal marijuana? Colorado has that opportunity right now.
His backing, then, is based on a simpler theory, as well as experience. He says the time he's spent in Europe makes him conclude that taxing and regulating pot is better than banning it.
Regarding his role as a spokesman for the cause, he's quoted as saying, "That's the fun of all this. If it was Snoop Dogg, it would be one thing. But it's Rick Steves. He's a nice guy. A businessman. We're saying this is not for kids. This is about civil liberties, (and) if a guy wants to light up a joint and stare at the fire inside his house for two hours, then he should be able to do that."
What are the odds such an opportunity could soon be legal in Colorado? Last week, Intrade, an online trading exchange, put the odds of Amendment 64 winning approval at 68 percent. At this writing, the number is up to 80 percent. with Initiative 502 given an 87.5 percent shot at victory.
By this time tomorrow, we should know whose bet has paid off.
Update, 10:14 a.m. November 6: Moments ago, we heard from Amendment 64 spokeswoman Betty Aldworth in response to the question of whether passage of the act would help or hurt Colorado tourism. In her view, suggestions by Denver mayor Michael Hancock and Visit Denver's Richard Scharf that tourism has been hurt by Colorado's medical marijuana industry are unfounded.
"Visit Denver's own statistics demonstrate that tourism and conventions continue to rise in Colorado as we experience the regulation of medical marijuana," she says. "Unless they're willing to present evidence to the contrary, I have a very difficult time believing that the regulation of an adult-use marijuana market would have a negative impact on tourism in Colorado."
Does she believe the act's approval would boost tourism?
"If we pass Amendment 64 today," she replies, "we will live in a state where our law-enforcement resources are dedicated to pursuing violent and otherwise serious crime, and where greater tax revenues can be dedicated to making our cities more beautiful and safer. And those things contribute to making Colorado a wonderful place to visit."
More from our Marijuana archive: "Marijuana: Amendment 64 given 68 percent chance of passing by Intrade."