- The Washington Times - Saturday, June 27, 2015

DENVER — Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry may not agree with Colorado’s decision to legalize recreational marijuana, but he said Saturday he will defend the state’s right to make a hash of things.

Speaking at the Western Conservative Summit, Mr. Perry made a vigorous defense for the states’ role as “laboratories of democracy,” in the words of the late U.S. Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis, even if it means sticking up for Colorado’s retail pot market.

“Let this country compete again. I am so optimistic about the future of America if we would free up these states from this one-size-fits-all,” Mr. Perry said. “You’ll see innovation. And from time to time, a state’s going to foul it up. They just are.”

“Think about what Brandeis said about experimentation, and Colorado comes to mind,” he said to applause and laughter from the crowd. “But I defend the right of Colorado to be wrong on that issue. It’s their right.”

Colorado voters passed an initiative legalizing small amounts of recreational pot for adults in 2012. Alaska, Oregon, Washington and the District of Columbia have since passed similar measures.

Mr. Perry is one of six GOP presidential contenders scheduled to speak at the sixth annual summit at the Colorado Convention Center, which is sponsored by the Centennial Institute at Colorado Christian University and runs through Sunday.

• Valerie Richardson can be reached at vrichardson@washingtontimes.com.

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