Pot proposal ignites
 attention at debate

The measure on the November ballot to legalize marijuana possession won the support of many of the Congressional and legislative challengers — most of them second-tier candidates ­—  who appeared before a League of Women Voters forum on Tuesday.

An unaffiliated candidate and a Libertarian candidate who are vying against long odds for the 3rd Congressional District seat joined others seeking two legislative posts in supporting Amendment 64.

“I don’t see why our prisons are so full of people who just want to light up a leaf and smoke it,” said Tim Menger, a Libertarian candidate for House District 54.

Two candidates opposed the idea, one a Republican former police officer running against Menger, and the other a Libertarian who was alone in admitting that he had imbibed.

“I had a little experience in the ‘60s, ‘70s and ‘80s and,” said Virgil Fenn, “I inhaled.” 

Fenn, who is running for the House District 55 seat, however, told the audience of more than 100 gathered in the Grand Junction City Council chambers, that he departed from Libertarian disapproval of most marijuana laws.

Marijuana, Fenn said, can be unpredictable and should be available only from “a real doc.”

Fenn is facing off against Republican Ray Scott and Democrat Dan Robinson.

Scott didn’t appear at the event and Robinson took no position, after noting that some studies have linked marijuana use to lower IQs but said it was “crazy” to have criminal sanctions for marijuana use.

Jared Wright, the Republican candidates for House District 54 against Menger, cited his experience as a police officer in Fruita dealing with the fallout from marijuana use and said Amendment 64 it would attract Mexican drug cartels into Colorado to use the state as a staging area for shipping marijuana to other states.

Much of the $2 million raised by supporters of Amendment 64 came “from out of the state and out of the country,” Wright said

Federal law now makes marijuana illegal, but congressional candidates Gregory Gilman, a Libertarian, and Tisha Casida, an unaffiliated candidate, both voiced doubts about the current laws.

Gilman likened those laws to Prohibition and said, “We should let people make their own decisions.”

Casida compared the choice to use marijuana to her preference for raw milk.

“People have a natural right to consume whatever they like,” Casida said.

The two leading candidates for the 3rd Congressional District, U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton, a Republican from Cortez and state Rep. Sal Pace, a Democrat from Pueblo, didn’t attend the forum.

Amendment 64 would amend the state Constitution to allow adults to possess marijuana plants and small amounts of marijuana.


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