Pot advocates tie campaign to Obama college visits

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FORT COLLINS, Colo. (AP) — Marijuana activists are using President Barack Obama's college campaign swing to promote their pitch for legalization.

As thousands waited in line to see the president Tuesday at Colorado State University, marijuana campaign workers in orange shirts passed out fliers about a measure on Colorado ballots to legalize pot for recreational use. Many cheered the marijuana organizers as they walked down the line.

"About time!" shouted one young man who held up a small flier about proposed marijuana legalization.

Colorado's Campaign To Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol marked the president's Colorado college visit by releasing a list of more than 100 college professors from campuses nationwide in favor of legalization.

"Marijuana prohibition has proven to be the worst possible system when it comes to protecting teens," the letter read.

Marijuana backers are hoping to promote legalization among the young voters the president is courting.

"I think there is peril for the president if he continues to laugh this issue off as a joke," said one of the professors who backs legalization, law professor Ty Alper of the University of California-Berkeley.

Obama has said legalization of marijuana won't happen "anytime soon." He didn't mention the drug in his Colorado remarks Tuesday.

Obama hasn't disputed using pot as an adolescent, but his administration has insisted the drug is federally illegal and will remain so. Some marijuana legalization or decriminalization backers said Obama's college tour could highlight his hypocrisy on marijuana.

"He thinks that people who do exactly what he did when he was young should be put in a cage and locked away, and that's just not right," said Emory University law professor Alexander Volokh.

Obama's reticence on the matter seemed more reasonable to folks waiting to see him in Fort Collins.

"It doesn't bother me that he doesn't take a position because as a voter, I don't know what my position is," 65-year-old Democrat Michele Sullivan said with a laugh. "I don't necessarily think it will be this big scary slippery slope if we legalize it. But at the same time, I'm wondering, you know, how are we going to do this?"

An independent voter who wasn't waiting to see the president said Obama's marijuana reticence is smart. Twenty-year-old Zenure Eringen of Conifer said she backs legalization and isn't bothered about Obama's stand.

"I think he's smart not to take a position on it, honestly," said Eringen, who said she's leaning toward Obama but hasn't decided yet.

Obama also visited Ames, Iowa, home of Iowa State University. He planned a stop near the University of Virginia on Wednesday.

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