The Republican Candidate for Governor in Colorado,  Bob Beauprez, is headed toward the mainstream vote in Colorado, if you believe a recent independent poll published in the Denver Post. The Post is claiming that Beauprez has a 10-point-lead against Governor John Hickenlooper, the Democratic incumbent who was at the helm when marijuana was legalized by a vote to alter the state constitution.

So suppose if Beauprez wins, what would that mean for Colorado? All in all, Bob Beauprez would be a Tea Party governor, without a lick of libertarianism in his platform. He’s a full-fledged birther who is unapologetically in favor of altering the laws to abolish abortion altogether, and if he had his way, Colorado would never have moved to legalize marijuana.

Where does that leave recreational marijuana businesses? What would they face with a Bob Beauprez governorship?

Beauprez, as a Republican candidate, had made literally no effort to speak about marijuana as an industry except to say that he doesn’t approve of it, and really wished Coloradans had not supported it. “I was not in favor of the legalization of marijuana, but as governor I will ensure that Colorado implements the law as safely and as responsibly as possible. Our primary concern should be to keep it out of the hands of our kids and to make sure law enforcement has the tools they need to successfully deal with the law,” he said last July at a candidate forum.

The marijuana industry is set to outpace the smart phone industry in terms of growth, if it isn’t already there.  The Huffington Post recently reported that sales of legal medical cannabis in 2013 reached $1.43 billion, and that they were poised to grow by 64% to $2.34 billion this year. By comparison, the smartphone market is growing at an annual rate of 7.3 percent, according to a report by research group IDC. Gov. Hickenlooper estimated the state of Colorado will reap between $60 million and $100 million in taxes from the marijuana industry this year, and $130 million in 2015, much of that to support educational programs.

According to the second edition of the State of Legal Marijuana Markets referenced in the Huffington Post article, 14 more states could legalize cannabis for recreational adult use in the next five years, creating a potential $10.2 billion cannabis market by 2018.

Beauprez was also campaigning with Chris Christie last July, who refused to retract his negative feelings about legalization, even when faced with angry protesters in Colorado. “What I said is what I believe,” he said. “I think it’s the wrong thing to do. I think legalizing marijuana is the wrong thing to do from a societal perspective, from a governmental perspective. I just disagree.” The fact that Christie was stumping for Beauprez should give marijuana proponents some pause; he was steadfast in casting judgement on the state when CBS4 Political Specialist Shaun Boyd asked Christie about the issue. He didn’t see the value in holding his tongue.

“I’ll say exactly what I said; that I think that that diminishes the quality of life in state that legalizing an illegal drug,” Christie responded. “Listen, I’m not one of those guys who’s is going to change my opinion because standing in Colorado and go, ‘Well, what I really meant was …’ No, I meant what I said.”

“It doesn’t mean that Colorado is not a great place, I’m sure it is. I think it would be greater if it didn’t legalize marijuana.”

Colorado’s Marijuana Backlash Could Follow California’s “Not In My Backyard Approach”

California has recently experienced a conservative backlash against their own marijuana laws — with small cities and towns implementing their own forms of prohibition and inhibiting the growth of marijuana-related jobs and industries by regulating growers, suppliers, and business out of their districts.  In the past few years, in response to legalized medical marijuana, nearly 200 cities and counties in the state have taken a “not in my backyard approach”, banning the sale of medical marijuana, while many others have put tough restrictions on the growers and sellers of the recreational weed.

Colorado’s far-right conservatives could easily try their own version of selective prohibition – through a growing movement of “state secessionist” activists. The activists want to secede not from the United States, but the state of Colorado. This should also give marijuana advocates pause.
Beauprez believes that this is an option for small towns and cities that don’t like the prevailing state laws.
Beauprez not only believes in the right of secession – he has been a vocal supporter of it, “In politics today there seems to be no room for compromise, so perhaps secession is the only way to ensure that minorities have a political voice,” he said of the state secessionist movement. (The minorities he referred to, however, were conservatives.) “If we are going to continue to have these ideological battles that end up maybe not moving in a very positive direction and ending in good government, just different government, maybe we ought to just go our separate ways. Why don’t you run your state and we’ll run ours.”

Let’s hope that Colorado makes the right choice about who gets to run theirs.