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Colorado Vote on Marijuana Could Have Effect on Presidential Election

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A measure on the Colorado ballot in November about marijuana legalization could have an effect on the presidential election, the Associated Press reports.

Both President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney oppose legalization of marijuana, and neither candidate is comfortable talking about the issue, the AP notes. They both are devoting funds and manpower to winning the state’s nine electoral votes. Colorado is politically divided, and has a large number of independent voters, according to the article.

The marijuana measure could influence younger voters to come to the polls, which could help Obama. He has admitted using marijuana and cocaine while he was college age, and called his actions “bad decisions.” A soon-to-be-published biography of the president, by a Washington Post writer, says Obama used marijuana in high school as well. On a recent television interview with late-night show host Jimmy Fallon, Obama said, “We’re not going to be legalizing weed — or what — anytime soon.”

Some legalization proponents say they are disappointed in Obama’s stance on marijuana. In 2009, his attorney general wrote a letter stating that federal law enforcement would generally overlook marijuana users who complied with their states’ laws. This year, however, federal authorities have closed more than 40 marijuana dispensaries in Colorado, even though they complied with state and local laws.

Romney says he has never used marijuana or other illegal drugs, according to a campaign spokeswoman. He calls marijuana a “gateway drug.” When asked by a Denver television reporter about marijuana on a recent visit to the state he said, “Aren’t there issues of significance that you’d like to talk about?”

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