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Recreational Cannabis Sales Surpass Projections, Colorado Governor In Denial

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper speaks at a news conference during the National Governor's Association Winter Meeting in Washington, Saturday, Feb. 22, 2014.
Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper speaks at a news conference during the National Governor's Association Winter Meeting in Washington, Saturday, Feb. 22, 2014. Cliff Owen/AP

Joint Opinions

Recreational Cannabis Sales Surpass Projections, Colorado Governor In Denial

Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper, a Democrat, was the toast of the town last week in Washington D.C. at the most recent meeting of the National Governors’ Association. Hickenlooper says he was approached by a handful of governors from other states interested in legalized cannabis sales.

Even though cannabis sales revenues have now exceeded all projections in Colorado, Hickenlooper has been publicly cautious about extolling the virtues of legalized marijuana.

“When governors have asked me, and several have, I say that we don’t have the facts. We don’t know what the unintended consequences are going to be,” Hickenlooper told the National Governors’ Association, “If it was me, I’d wait a couple years.”

Since Jan. 1, Colorado has seen a 77 percent decline in state marijuana prosecutions, $184 million in tax revenue and more Coloradans now support it than actually voted for it. Usage rates have not spiked, just been taxed for the very first time. And, we are only in month two of sales.

Yet Hickenlooper, as well as other governors at the meeting are still choosing the path of cautious pessimism by taking the “wait and see” approach to marijuana law reform, citing “unintended consequences” of legalization.

Cannabis has been proven to be non-toxic and generally safe to consume, it seems the caution is predicated on belief, rather than fact, take Republican Governor of Indiana, Mike Pence, for example:

“I just had a longstanding belief that legalizing marijuana would not be in the interest of our youth and our people… and I’ll maintain my position in opposition to legalization as governor.”

Pence is rumored to have made some lucrative deals with private prison lobbyists in his state in exchange for tougher sentencing for marijuana crimes.

Then there is Iowa’s Republican Governor Terry Branstad, who referred to legal sales in Colorado as “bad public policy.” Again, Branstad is relying on his intuition in evaluation of the new law saying, “It’s a segue drug that I think ends up creating a lot more problems than it solves.”

The “segue” drug or “gateway” drug theory has largely been proven false through a plethora of research on the topic which shows that cannabis is only a gateway drug when it is purchased on the illicit market, by unregulated and unlicensed distributors (dealers), who are likely selling other hard drugs that actually pose a threat to human health, hence the “safe access” argument to marijuana legalization.

So what exactly are these unintended consequences? None of these governors are saying, just putting it out there that there could potentially be some sort of negative outcome from legalization. In a couple years, or as long as it takes to manifest them.

The unintended health consequences of cannabis are largely non-existent, and so far Colorado is proving the case that legalized cannabis sales are a net positive to both society and economy. The legal sale of cannabis in Colorado is quickly destroying the black market and making cannabis more difficult for minors to obtain.

So are these Governors in denial of reality or willfully ignorant? Tell us what you think in the comments below.



  1. michael harrison

    March 6, 2014 at 8:33 pm

    it’s the same as it always has been a substance that should never have been illegal has fallen into the hands of politicians i remember back prior to nixon and reagan the laws were hardly ever enforced and some states had decriminalized it at one point ann arbor michigan it was considered legal politics need to get out of it and stay out it is about personal choices … in which no harm comes to anyone but alcohol is another story it destroys lives seperates families and causes thousands of deaths each year where as the only bad that comes from weed is by being illegal it creates opportunities for criminals and puts money in thier pockets where in colorado they are prospering I don’t think he is being greedy by his reluctance I believe the statistics speak how the transition has run smoothly and there hasn;t been chaos in fact crime has been reduced without the petty arrest for weed maybe law enforcement can focus on thier real job protecting and serving the public instead of harassing them…….. I smoke partially for the enjoyment but I suffer from austio and rheumatoid arthritis thoughout my body causing chronic pain it keeps me from using pain medication as much and gives me a much better quality of life ….. as far as the gateway theories … bullshit alcohol is much more the gateway drug i have been alcohol free for a number of years and by not using alcohol i don;t use cocaine, meth or other dangerous sub

  2. Tim Gutierrez

    March 6, 2014 at 12:11 am

    This guy will be out of the job come next election race. He has something which is generating revenue already, helping to cover budgets around Colorado, and he wants to dwell on the negative aspects of marijuana. If he’s so concerned about the public’s welfare, why isnt he scrutinizing alcohol, which has studies proving how harmful, and addictive it is?

  3. Cw

    March 3, 2014 at 6:43 am

    Governor of Colorado wants to collect a few years of the tax revenue in his state b4 informing other states of no real unseen backlash. ( no zombies) this guy sound a lot like do as I say not as it do! Be greedy!
    The governor of Indy is certainly going to protect his prison business. Prison is a business now and cannabis is a plant they can put u in a cage for and laugh about it over a bourbon and cigar. BASTARDS!!!

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