In the crowded Denver mayoral race, one candidate has pulled ahead with the pro-cannabis constituency: Doug Linkhart. The Denver city councilman has gone on record as favoring the legalization of marijuana, and has fought attempts to increase zoning restrictions on patient grows. Now he's scored one of the first-ever endorsements from the national Teapot Party, the pro-pot movement founded in the wake of Willie Nelson getting busted for possession last year. But is Linkhart's pro-pot stance a good move politically?
Linkhart seems to think so. When news broke last week about the Teapot Party's endorsement, he was downright effusive, sending out a celebratory release promising that, "as Mayor, I will continue protecting patient access to medical marijuana and pursuing fair treatment of businesses in Denver."
But could such statements end up burning him? While Colorado is pretty progressive when it comes to marijuana, there are elements of the pro-marijuana movement that the media tends to characterize as extremist. Take his post by an online commenter after news of Linkhart's Teapot Party endorsement broke: "I think crack pot party would be more appropriate." And there's also the fact that Chris Romer, who took on the tough task of getting MMJ legislation through the state senate last year, won no friends from either side for his efforts.
Still, considering the country's politically polarized populace and often fiery ideological clashes, the legalization of medical marijuana in this state has led to comparatively little backlash -- which is good news for Linkhart. And while MMJ may not inspire much opposition, it does get headlines; that could help Linkhart stand out from the pack of eighteen (at the moment) candidates.
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Although the turnout for Denver's municipal elections in May is notoriously meager, even that could play to Linkhart's favor. Traditionally, older residents tend to vote in greater numbers -- and while conventional wisdom labels older people as being anti-pot, that's starting to change as more and more patients turn to MMJ to cure the aches and pains of aging. And since this year's mayoral race is all by mail-in ballot, maybe younger Denver residents will also be moved to vote for the town going to pot.
When it's all over this summer, could Denver have its first official marijuana mayor?
More from our Marijuana archive: "Medical marijuana: Jared Polis stars in National Cannabis Industry Association event (PHOTOS)"