On Colo. marijuana initiative, head shop not even trying to get out the pothead vote

Colorado has a marijuana legalization initiative on the ballot, which would make recreational pot possession and smoking permissible.  A major Yes on Amendment 64 effort has been underway, based more on the possible revenue boon than the libertarian right to toke (a large portion of the pot tax would be earmarked for school funding). 

The pro-pot campaign is evident all over Denver, but not at Purple Haze, a longtime downtown head shop. Owner Chris Hale has turned down several requests to hang flyers or otherwise help to mobilize the stoner vote. 

"We're a tobacco shop," said Hale. "Everything we sell is for the smoking of tobacco."

That includes rows and rows of elaborate glass and clay waterpipes (as sign reminds customers, "There is no B in Waterpipe"), tiny glass one-hitters and a selection of fake soda cans billed as places to hide one's valuables. The shop's motto: Keep your DAZE filled with HAZE. 

"I just personally don't want to participate" in the pro-pot campaign, Hale said. 

He did vote for the constitutional amendment on his early ballot. But after 18 years of keeping a low retail profile, he's not ready for the white light of a public campaign (now black light, that might suit the pony-tailed vendor perfectly). 

And he's not sure a wide open pot scene would be an improvement over the comfortable wink-wink business model he's perfected in two decades. 

"I don't know, is there going to be a lot more scrutiny," he wonders. "Are the Feds going to take a greater role? I kind of like things the way they are now."

Steve Hendrix came to The Post more than ten years ago from the world of magazine freelancing and has written for just about every page of the paper: Travel, Style, the Magazine, Book World, Foreign, National and, most recently, the Metro section’s Enterprise Team.

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Emily Heil · November 5, 2012

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