As Peter Suderman noted, Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper called the voters who approved marijuana legalization in his state "reckless" during a debate on Monday. Yesterday, having reconsidered the wisdom of disparaging the people he is counting on to re-elect him in a close gubernatorial race, Hickenlooper took it back in a statement to the International Business Times:
Context is everything. I was asked if I thought it was reckless to legalize marijuana in Colorado—perhaps risky is a better word. While I believe it was risky for Colorado to be the first state to step away from a failed federal policy given all of the unanswered legal questions and implications, the adoption of Amendment 64 by Colorado voters sent a clear message to the federal government that marijuana should be legal and regulated.
We have a robust regulatory enforcement system that would not have been possible without the partnership of the marijuana business owners, activists, law enforcement officials, regulators, parents, policy experts and stakeholders. Together we have worked tirelessly to ensure a safe and fair system that protects the public health, diminishes the underground market, and educates and keeps marijuana out of the hands of our children. We remain committed to carrying out the will of the voters, including providing marijuana businesses access to banking and maintaining a fair regulatory system.
That is more or less what Hickenlooper had been saying about Amendment 64 until Monday's debate with his Republican opponent, Bob Beauprez. His use of the term reckless was not exactly a slip of the tongue, since he said it four times. First he said it would be "reckless" for other states to follow Colorado's example before all the relevant data are available. Then, when the moderator asked whether it was "reckless" for Colorado to legalize, Hickenlooper replied:
I think for us to do that without having all the data, there is not enough data, and to a certain extent you could say it was reckless. I'm not saying it was reckless because I'll get quoted everywhere, but if it was up to me I wouldn't have done it, right. I opposed it from the very beginning. In matter of fact, all right, what the hell—I'll say it was reckless.
Perhaps Hickenlooper, in the lukewarm heat of this sedate debate, did not quite realize that he was talking about 55 percent of the electorate.
[Thanks to Marc Sandhaus for the tip.]