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.
“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.