DENVER – Mainstream political candidates continue to grapple with the impact of the marijuana vote in Colorado.
Three friends and business colleagues from the Colorado marijuana world have all vowed to run against each other in the race for Denver mayor in 2015. The unified strategy is part of an effort to raise awareness and unseat incumbent Mayor Michael Hancock, a Democrat who opposed legalization in 2012.
Denver Relief dispensary owners Ean Seeb and Kayvan Khalatbari as well as local comedian Andy Juett will work together in the drive, despite running separate campaigns.
“Politics should not be an occupation; it’s not a career, it’s something people do as a public service,” Khalatbari said. “That’s what it used to be, and I think that’s what it needs to get back to.”
Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper and Republican challenger Bob Beauprez know about the impact of marijuana in politics. Both have clarified their opposition to legalization after backlash.
Add to the mix unaffiliated gubernatorial candidate Mike Dunafon – the mayor of Glendale where he owns a strip club and has won the hearts of marijuana activists. Political insiders wonder whether Dunafon could steal key votes from Hickenlooper, whose fate remains a coin toss.
“This does lend itself to something bigger,” Seeb said. “We have no fear about what it is we should or shouldn’t be saying because everything we’re coming from is almost from a noncorruptible point of view.”
Seeb said the move could become a strategy for under-the-radar candidates who band together to advance an issue.
The three likely mayoral candidates posted their respective campaign announcements on social media this past weekend, which quickly generated at least 500 comments of support. They are considering narrowing the field of three down to one pro-marijuana candidate before the runoff.
Hancock’s campaign declined comment when asked on Monday.
Neither of the candidates has filed paperwork. The proposed candidates say they will file by the end of the week.
Bill Delany, owner of Good Earth Meds, a dispensary in Pagosa Springs, isn’t too worried about the fate of marijuana in Colorado, despite opposition from establishment candidates.
One recreational marijuana store already has opened in Durango, and another is expected to open soon.
Delany said he even has an instructor from Fort Lewis College coming to his store today with students to conduct a marijuana tourism survey.
“We’ve been pretty well received,” Delany said. “Our town is in the process of doing a 360 both politically and within the community itself as far as acceptance goes.”