Read Jared Polis's invitation to President Barack Obama to tour a dispensary and pot grow
Earlier this week, we posted about President Barack Obama's latest marijuana comments: He told the New Yorker that pot isn't more dangerous than alcohol, and considers it to be less risky "in terms of its impact on the individual consumer."
Cannabis reform advocate Mason Tvert was heartened by Obama's take. So, too, is Representative Jared Polis, who has written a letter to the President and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid inviting them to tour a Colorado dispensary and grow.
Polis isn't a newcomer to this issue. He's spent years arguing that Colorado should be allowed to enact its own marijuana laws, even if they contradict federal law.
This past August, the Obama administration took steps in this direction, announcing that it wouldn't sue to stop Amendment 64, the voter-approved measure that allows adults 21 and above in Colorado to use and possess small amounts of marijuana. But he's remained cautious in his personal remarks about pot. In the New Yorker interview, he called it "a bad habit and a vice, not very different from the cigarettes that I smoked as a young person up through a big chunk of my adult life."
Nonetheless, Obama's statements in regard to alcohol and marijuana broke new ground, and he was explicit about what he sees as the inequities of punishment when it comes to pot.
Photo by Eric Gruneisen President Barack Obama during a 2012 campaign appearance in Boulder.
"Middle-class kids don't get locked up for smoking pot, and poor kids do," he said. "And African-American kids and Latino kids are more likely to be poor and less likely to have the resources and the support to avoid unduly harsh penalties." As such, he went on, "we should not be locking up kids or individual users for long stretches of jail time when some of the folks who are writing those laws have probably done the same thing."
Obama also referenced Colorado and Washington, the two states that have legalized recreational pot sales. In his view, their efforts should be allowed "because it's important for society not to have a situation in which a large portion of people have at one time or another broken the law and only a select few get punished."
These remarks clearly prompted Polis's letter to Obama and Reid. We've reproduced the text from the entire document below, but Polis begins by thanking the two men "for your recent comments regarding your shifting positions on the regulation and legalization of marijuana. It is vital that our nation's leaders recognize that marijuana's placement on Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act has cost taxpayers millions of dollars and has classified countless people as criminals simply for using or being in possession of a substance that, as you noted, Mr. President, is less dangerous than alcohol 'in terms of its individual impact on consumers.'"
With that in mind, Polis extends "an invitation to both of you to visit Colorado and join me to visit a legal dispensary and grow operation to see how the law is being implemented in the state. I am confident that when you see Colorado's work to implement the law while protecting children and raising revenue for our schools firsthand, we can begin to make similar efforts on a federal level."
What are the chances of Obama and Reid taking up Polis on this offer? Mighty slim, in all likelihood. But if Colorado's marijuana experiment inspires other states to follow suit, such a visit at some point in the future is no longer beyond the realm of possibility.
Continue to read Jared Polis's letter to President Barack Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.