Colorado gubernatorial candidate Tom Tancredo (Denver Post file)

GOP backer of 2012 Colorado marijuana legalization vote: “Experiment in liberty is working”

If Tom Tancredo had it to do over again, he’d still support Colorado’s marijuana-legalizing Amendment 64 – even though he thinks it cost him the 2014 GOP nomination for Colorado governor.

The former congressman — and recently announced 2018 Republican gubernatorial candidate — spoke Monday night at a Denver event hosted by advocacy group Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) to celebrate the five-year anniversary of the successful ballot initiative that made Colorado a pioneering recreational marijuana state, allowing possession and use by adults age 21 and older, and regulated sales.

The anniversary was also commemorated by U.S. Rep. Jared Polis, D-Colo., in the Congressional Record.

Standing behind a podium bedecked by a commemorative “Yes on 64” glass bowl, Tancredo lamented that the Republican Governors Association pumped money into negative ads highlighting his position on marijuana legalization in advance of Colorado’s 2014 Republican primary.

“It’s not fun to lose,” he told the crowd of about 200 gathered in a ballroom at the Ritz-Carlton downtown, “but if I lose the election because of a principle I believe in, it’s OK — I can handle that.”

The conservative firebrand politician threw his support behind Amendment 64 in late September 2012 in a letter to Republican state lawmakers, The Denver Post reported.

“I have decided it presents a responsible, effective and much-needed solution to a misguided policy,” he told The Post at the time.

In the June 2014 GOP primary, Tancredo garnered nearly 27 percent of the vote, finishing second in the four-way race behind Bob Beauprez, with 30 percent.

More than five years after his pro-legalization proclamation, Tancredo is back in Colorado gubernatorial politics, he told the gathering hosted by MPP, the influential advocacy organization that backed Amendment 64 to the tune of $1,241,000 – approximately 65 percent of the $1,913,000 spent on the campaign, according to MPP.

“There have been bumps in the road, we know that. There will be more, we know that,” he said. “The great thing is, this little experiment in liberty is working and I am happy to be a part of it.”

Tancredo wasn’t the only 2018 Colorado gubernatorial hopeful celebrating the anniversary of Amendment 64’s passage — congressman Polis also expressed his support, although he was not in attendance because of duties in Washington.

The fifth-term Boulder Democrat announced his plan to join the 2018 race for governor in June. Polis is a founding member of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus, a bipartisan group dedicated to promoting and protecting the nascent marijuana industry. Last March, he reintroduced the Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Act, which would end the federal prohibition on marijuana, as part of a larger, “Path to Marijuana Reform” bipartisan package of three related bills.

At the event, Polis’ outreach director Mara Brosy-Wiwchar read from an official statement Polis had entered in the Congressional Record in honor of the historic vote.

“States like Colorado, and now dozens of other states, have proven that allowing responsible adults to legally purchase marijuana, gives money to classrooms, not cartels; creates jobs, not addicts; and boosts our economy, not our prison population,” the statement reads. “Colorado ought to be an example for the nation, and it is past time we lift the federal prohibition on marijuana.”

Read: U.S. Rep. Jared Polis’ Congressional Record entry on five-year anniversary of Colorado marijuana legalization