#IVoteCannabis: New Initiative Aims to Harness Power of Marijuana Backers

Additional photos and more below.
Additional photos and more below.
File photo by Brandon Marshall

Correction below: The majority of Coloradans back the legalization of limited recreational marijuana sales, as was seen in the passage of Amendment 64 in 2012 — and since then, support for the idea continues to grow.

But subsequent attempts to harness the power of marijuana voters has had a spotty record of success. Back in 2014, for example, advocates targeted senatorial candidate Cory Gardner for voting against defunding DEA medical-marijuana raids. But Gardner defeated Senator Mark Udall anyhow.

Now, however, a major player on the Colorado marijuana scene — Wanda James, president of the Cannabis Global Initiative (assisted by CGI marketing director Nathan Hildreth — is launching #IVoteCannabis, a new effort to let voters who see marijuana as an important issue know where candidates stand.

Wanda James.
Wanda James.

The campaign is in its nascent stages. Thus far, it doesn't have either a website or a standalone Facebook page. Type the hashtag #IVoteCannabis into the Facebook search field, however, and you'll be taken to a series of posts spotlighting numerous candidates for Denver City Council, as well as Denver Clerk and Recorder Debra Johnson, all of whom receive a thumbs-up for their marijuana-related positions. See examples below.

Also featured is U.S. Representative Jared Polis, who James says is the model for a politician when it comes to the subject of cannabis — someone who's educated himself on the issue and consistently pushes legislation designed to help the industry grow rather than ignoring or demonizing it.

The Denver focus is expected to broaden over time, with statewide candidates also given scrutiny — and plans are in place to expand to a national level.

The current approach is mainly positive, with one exception, as seen in this tweet (the #IVoteCannabis hashtag works on Twitter, too):

Other thumbs could turn down in the future, too — and Hildreth says #IVoteCannabis will also call out politicians who flip-flop, saying one thing in candidate surveys and the like but doing something else when it comes time to take a stand.

Continue for the rest of the #IVoteCannabis endorsements, supplemented with initiative text explaining the reasons behind them.

#IVoteCannabis: New Initiative Aims to Harness Power of Marijuana Backers
#ivotecannabis

Candidate: Deborah "Debbie" Ortega
Office: City Council at large
Ms. Ortega is positive about how "Denver has tackled the issues surrounding legal recreational and medical marijuana well". She'd like to focus on improving the "industries’ inability to open bank accounts". That's a great start.
For all candidates, view tag: ?#?ivotecannabis?
Source(s): Denver Post Candidate Q&A

#IVoteCannabis: New Initiative Aims to Harness Power of Marijuana Backers
#ivotecannabis

Candidate: Kendra Black
Office: City Council CD4
Ms. Black agrees not one should be arrested for possession of cannabis and that it should be regulated like alcohol.
She sees the "need to close all of the regulatory loopholes and oversee collectives, hash oil extraction and caregivers."
For all candidates, view tag: ?#?ivotecannabis?
Source(s): CGI Questionnaire 4/8/15 & Denver City Council Candidate Q&As

#IVoteCannabis: New Initiative Aims to Harness Power of Marijuana Backers
#ivotecannabis

Candidate: Kayvan Khalatbari
Office: City Council at large
Kayvan is among the most supportive at large candidates we have, and has been active in the cannabis community for years, as an advocate and business owner.
Among many other positive changes he suggests, he believes, "additional restricted licenses should be available to existing bars and venues that designate interior spaces for the vaporizing of cannabis and designated outdoor areas where tobacco smoking is allowed to be used for the combustion of cannabis plant material."
For all candidates, view tag: ?#?ivotecannabis?
Source(s): Denver Post Candidate Q&A

#IVoteCannabis: New Initiative Aims to Harness Power of Marijuana Backers
#ivotecannabis

Candidate: Chris Chiari for Denver
Office: City Council CD10
Mr. Chairi has long been a supporter of cannabis and feels city needs to "move on creating 21+ venue licensing or even to allow established businesses to designate outdoor private patio space to adult recreational use".
For all candidates, view tag: ?#?ivotecannabis?
Source(s): CGI Questionnaire 4/8/15 & Denver City Council Candidate Q&As

#IVoteCannabis: New Initiative Aims to Harness Power of Marijuana Backers
#ivotecannabis

Candidate: Sean Bradley
Office: City Council District 11
Mr. Bradley agrees there should be no arrest for possession of cannabis. He further states, "Recreational should be regulated like alcohol but we still have individuals who use if for medical reason. In those regards, I would not feel comfortable with that being regulated like alcohol."
For all candidates, view tag: ?#?ivotecannabis?
Source(s): CGI Questionnaire 4/8/15

#IVoteCannabis: New Initiative Aims to Harness Power of Marijuana Backers
#ivotecannabis

Candidate: Jose G. Silva for Denver
Office: City Council at Large
Mr. Silva agrees on no arrest for possession of cannabis and states, "There should never be any criminalization for possession of cannabis nor should be there any ordinance that legislates criminalization. If someone has had this charge in the past, it should be expunged from their record."
Additionally, he believes cannabis should be regulated like alcohol, also stating that, "Denver should also have venues for cannabis consumption for people over 21. Providing a safe place for tourists and our citizens to consume is a common sense public safety issue."
For all candidates, view tag: ?#?ivotecannabis?
Source(s): CGI Questionnaire 4/8/15

#IVoteCannabis: New Initiative Aims to Harness Power of Marijuana Backers
#ivotecannabis

Candidate: Debra Johnson, Denver Clerk and Recorder
Office: Clerk & Recorder
Ms. Johnson agrees that no arrest should be made from possession of cannabis for anyone over 21 years of age and older and that it should be regulated like alcohol in the spirit of Amendment 64.
For all candidates, view tag: ?#?ivotecannabis?
Source(s): CGI Questionnaire 4/8/15

#IVoteCannabis: New Initiative Aims to Harness Power of Marijuana Backers
#ivotecannabis

Candidate: Mickki Langston for Denver City Council
Office: City Council District 7
Ms. Langston agrees that no arrest should be made from possession of cannabis and that we "lack legal places for people to meet and consume marijuana. I would like to experiment with a limited number of legal, public spaces, to see what makes sense for our neighborhoods."
"I’d be interested to see what the impact of these places would have on the surrounding businesses, and how other cities incorporate public consumption and cafes. I want Denver to learn from the experiences of other places and for us to do a great job incorporating marijuana into our city."
For all candidates, view tag: ?#?ivotecannabis?
Source(s): CGI Questionnaire 4/8/15 & Denver City Council Candidate Q&As

#IVoteCannabis: New Initiative Aims to Harness Power of Marijuana Backers
#ivotecannabis

Candidate: Ean Thomas Tafoya - Candidate for Denver City Council District 9
Office: City Council CD9
Mr. Tafoya agrees that no arrest should be made from possession of cannabis and that it should be regulated like alcohol in the spirit of Amendment 64. Tafoya feels, "We should allow the opening of marijuana clubs where adults of legal age can consume in a leisure or entertainment environment."
For all candidates, view tag: ?#?ivotecannabis?
Source(s): CGI Questionnaire 4/8/15 & Denver City Council Candidate Q&As

#IVoteCannabis: New Initiative Aims to Harness Power of Marijuana Backers
#ivotecannabis

Colorado Rep. Congressman Jared Polis has introduced legislation for cannabis legalization many times as one of the initial and longest supporters of cannabis in the House. ?#?ivotecannabis? ?#?420CGI?

Correction: The original version of this post misidentified Nathan Hildreth as the Marijuana Policy Project's Mason Tvert. The text has been corrected above. We regret the error.

Send your story tips to the author, Michael Roberts.

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