Rep. DeGette touts legal marijuana in fundraising e-mail


A fully budded marijuana plant ready for trimming at the Botanacare marijuana store ahead of their grand opening on New Year’s day in Northglenn, Colorado. (Rick Wilking/Reuters.)

Less than a week after the first state-sanctioned sales of marijuana began in Colorado, a U.S. lawmaker from the state is using the issue to raise money.

Rep. Diana DeGette (D), who represents Colorado’s 1st district and is chief deputy whip in the House, sent an e-mail to supporters on Monday arguing that “the world didn’t end” after sales of pot for recreational use began on Jan. 1.

“I’m working hard to make sure that Congress passes legislation to respect states and the overwhelming majority that voted to legalize marijuana in 2012,” she says in bolded text in the e-mail.

“The Congresswoman is pleased that the first few days have gone smoothly,” a spokesman said in a follow-up statement.

That a member of Congress would feel comfortable touting the regulated sale of marijuana in an official communication is a reflection of a rapid shift in attitudes toward the substance, which could not be legally purchased for any reason just two decades ago. Support for legalizing marijuana reached a more than 40-year high in October, according to a Gallup survey. For the first time, Gallup reported, a clear majority of Americans —58 percent—supported legalizing the drug.

DeGette last year introduced the “Respect States’ and Citizens’ Rights Act of 2013,” which would prevent the federal government from preempting state regulations on marijuana. A linked sentence—”We need to take this on from day one: make an immediate contribution to send a strong message: respect Colorado voters and respect states.”—leads to a fundraising page for DeGette.

Her district includes Denver, which home to many of the shops that began selling marijuana last Wednesday. Similar sales will begin in Washington state some time in the next few months.

Here’s the e-mail in full:

[I]t was a big week in Colorado. Across the state, recreational marijuana was sold for the first time. And guess what? The world didn’t end.

Colorado is leading the way, and we can’t let the federal government override Colorado voters and regulate our recreational marijuana sales. I’ve introduced the Respect States’ and Citizens’ Rights Act — legislation that will help prevent the federal government from imposing its own marijuana regulations on states like Colorado. Can I count on your support?

We need to take this on from day one: make an immediate contribution to send a strong message: respect Colorado voters and respect states.

If there’s one thing I know about Coloradans, it’s that we’re fiercely independent. It’s my duty to protect the decisions that voters in our state make, and that’s a job I take very seriously. I’m working hard to make sure that Congress passes legislation to respect states and the overwhelming majority that voted to legalize marijuana in 2012.

Thank you for joining me in this important fight.

Diana DeGette

Niraj Chokshi reports for GovBeat, The Post's state and local policy blog.
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