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Colorado Governor Plans to Spend Tax Revenue on Anti-Marijuana Campaigns

A man hands over a hundred dollar bill for bags of marijuana in Colorado.


Colorado Governor Plans to Spend Tax Revenue on Anti-Marijuana Campaigns

Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper told the Durango Herald “I hate Colorado having to be the experiment… we should not try to get people to do more of what is not a healthy thing,” in a recent interview about recreational marijuana.

The Governor opposed Amendment 64, saying in a September 2012 statement, “Colorado is known for many great things – marijuana should not be one of them.”

Hickenlooper has not grown more supportive since the amendment’s implementation. On his recent trip to Durango, one of the handful of communities in Colorado banning marijuana, he told the Herald his office will “regulate the living daylights out of it.”

Heavily regulating marijuana isn’t all Gov. Hickenlooper plans to do as he enters the final year of his four-year term. The Office of the Governor recently published its allocation of the recreational marijuana tax revenue. According to the report, Hickenlooper has assigned the majority of the revenue to fund anti-marijuana projects aimed at Colorado’s youth.

Gov. Hickenlooper made his fortune prior to politics as a beer brewer, founding the Denver’s Wynkoop Brewing Company and takes great pride in his brewing career. “I’m the first brewer who’s ever been a governor, unless you count Sam Adams, he was the governor of Massachusetts, but it’s unclear whether he really brewed commercially.” Hickenlooper told The Atlantic in 2012.

Mason Tvert, Communications Director of Marijuana Policy Project‘s told Denver’s Westword:

“Gov. Hickenlooper’s proposal reflects his long-held pro-alcohol, anti-marijuana mindset. His plan is to spend millions of dollars on marijuana propaganda and continue to ignore the fact that alcohol causes far more potential harm to consumers and the community. How can the governor justify focusing our state’s limited drug education and prevention resources on a substance that is less harmful than one he made a fortune selling?”

Other proponents to this plan include Brian Vincente, attorney and executive of Sensible Colorado, the state’s leading nonprofit working for medical marijuana patients:

“Gov. Hickenlooper’s proposal flies in the faces of voters who expected marijuana to be treated similarly to alcohol. Voters approved Amendment 64 because they wanted to put an end to government-run anti-marijuana campaigns, not to fund new ones. The governor should explain why he feels all of these new marijuana-related programs are necessary when the health and safety of teens are threatened to a much greater degree by alcohol use and prescription drug abuse. We have an incredible opportunity to chart a new course in the state when it comes to teen substance use and abuse. We hope the legislature will approach this issue more thoughtfully than the governor has.”

Regardless of the opposition, Gov. Hickenlooper plans to use $45.5 million of the tax revenue generated by marijuana sales to fund anti-marijuana projects for Colorado’s youth – a full $5 million more than he has reserved for school construction and education programs.

The agenda to keep minors away from marijuana might not be as paramount as the Governor makes it appear. A 2012 CDC study reports teen marijuana usage has dropped below the national average in Colorado.

Other funding plans for the tax revenue include $42.4 million to substance abuse programs and $9 million to “public health.”

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