Gov. John Hickenlooper signing a bill into law in 2013.

Mike Johnston

Legalization is Working, Colorado’s Governor Confirms

Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper has changed his tune on legal cannabis from one of open doubtfulness to a significantly more optimistic stance, according to an LA Times report.

During a panel discussion at the Milken Institute Global Conference held recently in Los Angeles, Gov. Hickenlooper said that Colorado’s move to legalize is “beginning to look like it might work.”

The governor was a vocal critic of the law during the 2012 election, citing concerns over public safety and the potential for increased teenage use. At the time, he called the move “reckless” — a statement he later downgraded to “risky.” The governor also said that if he had been granted the power to undo the 2012 decision by Colorado voters, he would have done so.

However, “If I had that magic wand now, I don’t know if I would wave it,” Gov. Hickenlooper said.

According to Andrew Freedman, director of marijuana coordination for Colorado, the governor’s change in opinion is due to a growing sense of optimism regarding the industry’s regulatory infrastructure. “In the short run, there have been a lot fewer public safety and health issues than the governor feared in the beginning,” Freedman said. “In the beginning, we had problems with edibles and hash oil fires but now, for the most part, Colorado looks a lot like it did before legalization.”

According to Mason Tvert, spokesman for the Marijuana Policy Project, “The predictions of fire and brimstone have failed to materialize. Most Coloradoans, including the governor, recognize that the law is working.”

The state collected more than $135 million in cannabis taxes during 2015, $35 million of which was earmarked for school construction projects.

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