Terrapin Care Station, a Colorado-based cannabis company, wants you to register to vote. And the folks there are offering an incentive if you do.
Coloradans who register, or who have already done so, and follow a procedure outlined below will receive a 10 percent discount at any of the state's five Terrapin Care Station locations through election day, November 6.
Earlier this year, Erik Altieri, the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws' executive director, talked to Westword about what he sees as the growing power of voters who use cannabis while discussing NORML's endorsement of Jared Polis in the Colorado governor's race. This point was underscored by Polis spokeswoman Mara Sheldon, who said, "We're really starting to see a new voter bloc develop."
Terrapin communications director Peter Marcus agrees. But he stresses that the registration discount, which is being promoted under the name "Weed Loves Voters," is completely nonpartisan and isn't directed at any specific candidate or issue — which is why representatives from the Colorado Secretary of State's Office, who were consulted prior to the plan's announcement, gave their blessing.
"We don't care which way people lean," Marcus notes. "Obviously, we have our preferences. But we just want to see people register to vote the way they want to."
According to Marcus, the roots of the idea were planted earlier this year, when Terrapin Care Station began to participate in the Cannabis Vote Project organized by the national advocacy group HeadCount. "It's a new Rock the Vote kind of thing," he explains, "and we worked with them to try to get people to register to vote and talk about the cannabis issue."
Then, in the run-up to the June primary, "we saw Jared Polis really start hitting the marijuana issue," Marcus continues. "He asked cannabis companies such as ourselves to carry his literature in our stores, and people really started responding to it. They commented about how they found it useful to have information about the election and candidates to read."
This reaction demonstrated to the Terrapin crew "that cannabis voters are pretty politically engaged and savvy and sophisticated," he maintains. "We thought that was really cool — and when we looked at the climate in America, we realized that no matter what side you're on, there's a lot of passion and energy right now. So we thought, what can we do to be good civic partners and help encourage people who may not be registered to vote right now to get registered and participate in our democracy?"
Hence, Weed Loves Voters, which Marcus sees as a way to reach cannabis consumers across the political spectrum. "Democrats and Republicans and unaffiliated voters and Libertarians: So many people from so many different walks of life come together on the issue of cannabis. And Colorado is the best microcosm of that. Democrats were obviously first on board to push for cannabis legalization, but we saw a fast evolution, with a lot of Republicans getting behind it — and that's only growing. Our bill this last session about cannabis tasting rooms had votes from fifteen Republicans."
Marcus points out that the same phenomenon is playing out nationally, and in some surprising locations: "The same day as the primary here, Oklahoma — a state that sued Colorado over marijuana legalization — voted to legalize medical marijuana and even allowed for home grows. That's one of the reddest states out there. And the next day, there were stories in places like CNN that talked about us reaching a tipping point on marijuana legalization."
In the contest for Colorado governor, the distinctions on cannabis policy may seem vast given a question that Stapleton asked Polis, the father of two young children, during a recent CSU Pueblo debate: "Does that mean you'll tell your kids to smoke weed for schools?" But Marcus stresses that while Stapleton "has said some concerning things and is a bit misguided when talking about the medical program, he's on record as saying he'll respect the will of the voters on Amendment 64," the measure that legalized limited recreational marijuana sales in the state. "He made a joke that was a misstep — the gasps from the audience are all you needed to know about why you can't say that kind of thing in Colorado — but he's said he won't be fighting for repeal."
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That makes sense to Marcus, who believes that if Stapleton came out as a prohibitionist, "the Republicans know they'd lose the election."
He adds: "Cannabis crosses all political lines, all walks of life. It appeals to those in retirement. It appeals to those who are younger. Some people may laugh when I say this, but the truth is, cannabis is a galvanizing, unifying issue for a large swatch of Americans at a time when the country is greatly divided. And if we can get more people to come together on one thing, that's progress."
Here's Terrapin Care Station's five-step instructions for how to participate in the discount program:
1. Visit GoVoteColorado.com to register and check registration status
2. Register to vote, if you haven’t already
3. Take a screenshot of your ACTIVE Registration Status (you can cut off the screenshot AFTER Registration Status to not include Party Affiliation)
4. Show screenshot at any Terrapin Care Station location to receive a 10 percent discount
5. Go Vote through November 6 (mail ballot or in person)