- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 13, 2007

DENVER — The Colorado legislature has approved John Denver’s “Rocky Mountain High” as the official state co-song, but lawmakers made it clear that the 1972 hit has nothing to do with drugs.

But not everyone got the memo.

“Of course it’s a song about smoking dope,” said Peter Boyles, the morning talk-show host on KHOW-AM in Denver.

Whether the new state song endorses pot smoking was the burning issue here yesterday as Coloradans debated the meaning of the ballad’s somewhat ambiguous lyrics. At the crux of the issue was the line, “Friends around the campfire, and everybody’s high.”

State Rep. Bob Hagedorn, the Democrat who sponsored the resolution, insisted that the words could just as easily refer to drug-free camp-out fun, such as “having a couple of six-packs” or “pigging out on S’mores.”

“They are just words,” said Mr. Hagedorn during Monday’s floor debate. “It’s how people want to interpret them.”

Most legislators agreed, voting 26-8 in the Senate and 50-10 in the House to give state co-song status to “Rocky Mountain High.” The state’s original song is the rarely performed “Where the Columbines Grow,” referring to the state flower.

Mr. Hagedorn, who said “Rocky Mountain High” has enjoyed unofficial state-song status in Colorado for years, insisted that he wouldn’t have supported the tune if he thought it endorsed illegal-drug usage.

Still, the “everybody’s high” lyric left some lawmakers leery, including Republican state Rep. Debbie Stafford, who offered an amendment stating that the line refers to the state’s elevation and “in no way reflects or encourages” illegal-drug use. Her amendment was defeated.

The resolution now goes to Democratic Gov. Bill RitterJr., who has yet to comment on the fuss.

Craig Silverman, a KHOW-AM afternoon radio talk-show host, supports the resolution, despite what he concedes is “probably” a drug reference. “It’s the best song about Colorado. It’s the song most associated with Colorado,” he said.

Denver voters approved a 2004 ballot measure legalizing small amounts of marijuana, but the state rejected a similar initiative last year. Mason Tvert, the state’s most visible marijuana-legalization advocate, noted that the Denver vote hasn’t turned the city into a drug haven.

“They kept saying that shady people would show up if it was approved, and then the Democrats decided to hold their [2008 presidential] convention here” in Denver, Mr. Tvert said.

“If we make ‘Rocky Mountain High’ the state song, maybe the Republicans will show up,” he said.

c This article was based in part on wire service reports.

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