Colorado’s Jeff Hunt explains libertarianism’s limits on pot on C-SPAN

Author: Joey Bunch - May 30, 2018 - Updated: May 30, 2018

Jeff HuntThe Centennial Institute’s Jeff Hunt did a 30-minute interview on C-SPAN Wednesday morning. (Photo courtesy of C-SPAN via screen grab)

Folks who revolve in conservative Colorado circles saw a familiar face on TV Wednesday if they were up early and watching C-SPAN’s “Washington Journal.”

Jeff Hunt, vice president of public policy at Colorado Christian University and head of the Centennial Institute think tank there, was talking about the state of social libertarianism, starting with ills of a free market for marijuana.

Libertarianism has its limits — boundaries drawn by values, principles and self-restraint, he said.

His C-SPAN appearance advanced the Western Conservative Summit next week at the Colorado Convention Center in Denver. The annual fête is hailed as the largest gathering of conservative operatives and thinkers outside metro Washington, D.C.

Hunt talked about this year’s theme: Fortifying Freedom.

“We need to protect freedom from government intrusion and overreach,” he told host Pedro Echevarria. “And secondly, we need to talk about the true nature of freedom — this notion of ordered liberty, which I think we’re losing in this country. We’re seeing kind of a rise in socialism libertarianism that I think is a challenge to the true nature of freedom that must be matched by self-restraint and order.”

He leaned on history, citing the founding fathers.

“If we don’t have morals, if we don’t have values and we don’t have strong principles to self-guide us, what ends up happening is you end up breaking down society and government actually gets bigger,” Hunt said.

He said that’s what happened in Colorado, where the legalization has led to more government.

“Right now we’re debating in Colorado whether the government should be paying for needle injection sites in downtown Denver,” Hunt said.

Marijuana legalization has not been linked directly to Colorado’s opioid abuse epidemic. A failed bill last session would have allowed supervised injection sites. They would not have used state money. Rather, charities, businesses and some local governments could provide the sites.

“The drug problem ultimately results in a co-dependency on drugs, and government ends up stepping in to take care of people, and that’s where you see government actually getting bigger,” Hunt said.

Echevarria played a clip of Gov. John Hickenlooper explaining how he opposed legalizing recreational marijuana in 2012. Voters, however, passed a constitutional amendment to allow it, 55 percent to 45 percent.

“I feel when the people vote that strongly to support something, I took an oath to protect and deliver what goes in our state constitution,” Hickenlooper said.

Echevarria asked Hunt if it wasn’t a small-government concept to allow people to vote in their own rules, rather than follow federal edict.

“I would love to be able to have an honest conversation about marijuana in Colorado,” Hunt replied. “The problem is we’re not having an honest conversation. The industry, who has lots of lobbyists who are active at our Capitol here, are oftentimes advancing their agenda in a way that’s not truthful or honest.”

He said the black market for marijuana hasn’t gone away, even though proponents said it would. He called Colorado the black market capital in North America.

You can watch the full half-hour interview by clicking here.

Joey Bunch

Joey Bunch

Joey Bunch is the senior political correspondent for Colorado Politics. He has a 31-year career in journalism, including the last 15 in Colorado. He was part of the Denver Post team that won the Pulitzer Prize in 2013 and is a two-time Pulitzer finalist. His resume includes covering high school sports, the environment, the casino industry and civil rights in the South, as well as a short stint at CNN.