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Colorado Gov. Dishes to Rolling Stone about Cannabis Legalization, Federal Policy

In an interview with Rolling Stone, Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper dispelled prohibitionist myths about cannabis legalization in the state: children are not getting high and there hasn’t been a spike in cannabis-related driving incidents.

“We were very worried that by legalizing, we were making this more somehow more psychologically available to kids. We haven’t seen that. If anything, we’ve seen less drug dealers.” – Hickenlooper to Rolling Stone

The Democratic governor, who initially opposed legalization in the state, indicated that, overall, officials “haven’t seen a big spike in consumption” but they have seen cannabis use rates increase among senior citizens.

“… Which we think is either Baby Boomers coming home to roost or arthritis and the aches and pains of growing older – people finding that marijuana is a better pain solution than opioids or other things.” – Hickenlooper in the interview

Hickenlooper also opened up about his conversations with Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who Hickenlooper said is “very clear … that more Americans enjoying any kind of drug makes the country weaker, not stronger” but that he admits the federal government doesn’t have the resources to crack down on state-legal cannabis programs and that their priority is heroin, meth, and human trafficking.

“That being said, he’s not going to want to do anything that in any way allows people to think that it’s OK to open a dispensary or it’s OK to start growing pot. He just wants people to be very uncertain about that and unsure about what the next step would be from the federal government, which is sort of what’s happening now with trade, right? With the tariff wars. But it creates this uncertainty, which is bad for business. … He wants to have that uncertainty, which he hopes will be bad for business. Just make people think twice before they expand their operation or make additional investments.” – Hickenlooper, on federal interference, to Rolling Stone

Hickenlooper suggested that the state’s illegal market now represents $50 million to $100 million in the $1.5 billion state industry. He noted that U.S. News & World Report has ranked Colorado the number one economy in the U.S. for two years in a row, but he did not directly attribute that to legalization.

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