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Colorado Governor – ‘War On Drugs Was A Disaster’

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john hickenlooper marijuana coloradoColorado’s Governor John Hickenlooper was not on board with Amendment 64 prior to the 2012 Election. He wasn’t the cannabis regulation measure’s biggest opponent, but he did express on numerous occasions that he was skeptical of what the new industry would do to his state. After over half a year of regulated commerce, Governor Hickenlooper sat down with Katie Couric to talk about how the new law is working in his state.

Below are statements made by Governor Hickenlooper during the interview:

  • One of the best things about regulating, legalizing and taxing marijuana: “I think the black market has been damaged. I think people are willing to pay taxes and to go through pretty rigorous regulation.”
  • “Some of the anxiety has been laid to rest. We don’t see a spike in adult use. We don’t think we see a spike in youth consumption although there are some things that are disconcerting.
  • On what motivated Colorado voters: “Let’s face it, the War on Drugs was a disaster. It may be well intentioned … but it sent millions of kids to prison, gave them felonies often times when they had no violent crimes … I was against this, but I can see why so many people supported it.”

While I don’t agree with all of the points made during the interview, I do mostly agree with the statements above. Ending cannabis prohibition in Colorado has absolutely hurt the black market. Every dollar that goes to a legal, regulated purchase in Colorado is a dollar that is being taken away from underground dealers and drug cartels. Every dollar that is no longer dedicated to enforcing cannabis prohibition is a dollar that can now go to fighting black market crime. This will continue to happen as the industry continues to grow in Colorado, and more and more people move out of the shadows and make their purchases at state-licensed and audited stores.

The fact that there has been no spike in adult consumption is something that supporters said would be the case during the campaign season. The governor should have gone farther and definitively stated that youth consumption hasn’t spiked, instead of saying he ‘thought’ there hadn’t been a spike.

Members of the cannabis industry want safe roads and neighborhoods as much as anyone. These pioneering entrepreneurs, many of them parents themselves, want to keep marijuana out of the hands of children. The cannabis community has the most at stake, knowing that serious problems will lead to voter backlash. It was heartening that a recent underage sting conducted by law enforcement and state regulators found that not a single retail cannabis store was out of compliance. Not a single one.

I like that the governor pointed out that federal banking rules are hurting the industry. I love his statement that keeping the industry a cash only industry increases the chance for corruption, which is something that opponents and supporters alike don’t want any part of. All in all, I like the statements made by the Governor Hickenlooper. As time goes by, and the industry grows, it will become harder and harder to make the case that any state should continue treating marijuana use as a crime, because there is a better approach.

Source: International Cannabis Business Conference

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About Author

Anthony Johnson is the director of New Approach Oregon, the PAC responsible for Measure 91, that ended cannabis prohibition for all Oregon adults in 2014. In addition to helping organize the International Cannabis Business Conference & the Oregon Medical Marijuana Business Conference, he also serves as a Board Member of the National Cannabis Coalition, working to legalize cannabis across the country and Show-Me Cannabis Regulation, an organization specifically working to end cannabis prohibition in Missouri. As President of the University of Missouri Law School ACLU Chapter, Anthony co-authored the measures that legalized medical cannabis possession and decriminalized personal possession for all adults within the city limits of Columbia, Missouri, in 2004. Following law school, Anthony practiced criminal defense for two years before working full time in the political field to help improve and protect civil liberties. You can follow Anthony on Twitter and also friend him on Facebook by following the links below as he posts mostly about civil liberties and politics with dashes of sports, music, movies and whatnot.