Amendment 64: If it's a disaster, other states won't move to legalize pot, says GOP's Ryan Call
Since Amendment 64 passed in Colorado, Republican officials have been tasked with responding to a policy that the party didn't embrace but a majority of voters supported. With small amounts of recreational marijuana use to be okayed in the state constitution, GOP reps are supporting the state's right to make its own laws while expressing concerns about the policy itself. Take Colorado Republican Party chairman Ryan Call, who sees one potential positive in an A64 disaster: It will encourage other states to keep pot illegal.
At a campaign finance event last week, Call told us that there are a wide array of concerns he still has regarding the consequences of A64 -- but that ultimately, officials have to support the vote of the state.
"There is great value in having the states, under our federalist system, be laboratories of experiment," Call said. "And if legalization of marijuana in Colorado or Washington...is shown to be a disaster, then other states hopefully will not follow suit. And that's part of the great American experiment.... In terms of the result of the election, our obligation is to honor the will of that majority, work to enact common-sense regulations that will help mitigate the negative consequences of legalization and empower local communities to decide what kind of an environment they want in terms of raising their kids or negotiating their businesses."
Sam Levin Ryan Call speaking at a GOP Mitt Romney rally earlier this year.
Since election day, some of the most discussed questions about the measure have involved the contradictions between Colorado and federal law. While possession of less than one ounce of marijuana will be legal for adults here, it remains federally illegal in any amount.
A week after A64 passed, Republican Congressman Mike Coffman, re-elected last month, said he would support legislation that would give Colorado an exemption from federal policy. In the announcement of that bill, also backed by Representative Diana DeGette, a Democrat, Coffman said he strongly opposed legalized marijuana but will now work to enact the change, since the state voted it in.
Tom Tancredo, the former congressman and Colorado gubernatorial candidate -- and one of the most prominent local Republicans to back A64 -- thinks conservatives should support the amendment. He said it fits with GOP values of less government and that if Republicans oppose "nanny-state activities," they should support Colorado's right to let adults smoke marijuana if they choose.
Call, however, expressed a lot more concern about the consequences of legalization.
"Our party has taken positions in opposition to the legalization of marijuana in connection with our recent state convention," he said. "And there are significant ramifications to both our business climate, and our kids, quality of schools, and a lot of other things like that.... This has to be resolved at the federal level."
Continue for more of our interview with Colorado GOP Chairman Ryan Call.