Colorado Governor Concedes Legal Marijuana Hasn't Turned His State Into a Stoner Hellscape

Five years after opposing Amendment 64, Gov. Hickenlooper says things are going pretty well with Colorado's legal pot experiment.


Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper didn't want his residents to approve 2012's ballot initiative legalizing recreational marijuana. But in a lengthy interview with The Denver Post's Alicia Wallace, the craft beer-brewing governor says the "worst nightmares" of legalization opponents "haven't materialized."

"We haven't seen a spike in teenage use," Hickenlooper told Wallace. "We haven't seen a giant increase in people's consumption of marijuana. Seems like the people who were using marijuana before it was legal, still are. Seems like the people who weren't using marijuana before it was legal, still aren't."

Hickenlooper remains skeptical of his state's success in taxing and regulating marijuana–he's told other governors curious about legalizing marijuana, "I think they should still wait a year or two, maybe three years"–but he also appears committed to pushing back against any crackdown on legal weed by Attorney General Jeff Sessions and the Trump Justice Department:

Q: Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman has invited Sessions to visit Colorado for a first-hand look at how the system operates here. If that were to happen, what would you say to him? What would you show him?

Hickenlooper: I think I would make the argument to Attorney General Sessions that I'd tell him, I opposed it. I thought this was too risky of an idea. No state wants to be in conflict with federal law, but our state passed this 55-45, our state supports it by more than 60-40 now. … I took an oath to uphold the Constitution of Colorado and I have an obligation to do everything I can to try and make this thing work.

Not exactly an emphatic defense of Colorado's sovereignty, is it?

Hickenlooper also suggests to Wallace that he might veto two pending bills in the state legislature. One would legalize home delivery of marijuana products and the other would legalize the operation of membership-only clubs where people can publicly consume marijuana. His argument against the former is that delivery services may lead to underage consumption; his argument against the latter is that Amendment 64 was sold on the promise no one could consume in public, "[s]o I'm just trying to defend the will of the voters in that."

But if teenage use hasn't increased with legal pot retailing at $30 an ounce(!), I'd be curious to know exactly how couriers will dramatically alter the landscape. It's also a bit odd to see Hickenlooper crow about the tax revenue from legal pot while denying out-of-state pot tourists a safe and legal place to consume their purchases. If consumers cannot legally consume marijuana in public or in their hotel rooms, and they also can't join private clubs, are they supposed to pack it into their luggage and board a plane? Drive it across state lines? Head out to a federal park? None of those things are legal. And if Amendment 64 voters see the legalization of members-only pot clubs as a betrayal, they can vote in legislators to reverse it.

Here's ReasonTV on Denver's pot club crackdown, and why it's a violation of free association:

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  1. Not exactly an emphatic defense of Colorado’s sovereignty, is it?

    Easy now, that ‘sovereignty’ word can get peoples’ blood up.

  2. But if teenage use hasn’t increased with legal pot retailing at $30 an ounce(!),

    I’ve never purchased MJ, either illegally or legally, I take it that’s expensive?

    1. Google says 1/3 gram in a joint and 28 grams in an ounce.

      So, $30 for 87 joints.

      Cheaper than cigs in some places…

    2. That’s damn cheap. It’s so cheap that it makes me want to be the first person ever to overdose and die from spiking up some of the devil’s lettuce.

    3. That’s roughly the price pot was in the early 1980’s – but far more potent/pure now.

    4. 1970s commercial pricing

    5. I would like a link?to an establishment that sells pot at $30 an ounce.
      That’s BS. A gram costs $20.

      1. Only if you’re grossly overpaying. THCU in Trinidad CO had $100 ounces for weed with THC levels in the low twenties. Ten dollars for a single gram is about the maximum going rate everywhere.

    6. Gosh ,quality weed is often ten times this price. A 30 dollar bag would be leaf or trim or worse Mexican.

  3. So, hold a referendum on private clubs?

  4. Hey, Hickenlooper, you are missing something, because it’s a known fact that good people don’t smoke marijuana.

  5. He needs tourism dollars so what’s Lickenhooper gonna do? Admit that his state is now full of reefer addicts ready to rob and rape you like hazy berserkers as soon as you step foot off the plane? No, he’s going to hide it.

  6. My last comment was #6,809,745.
    That averages out to about 1144 comments per day over 16.25 years, assuming this place started in 2000.
    So much accomplished, so many libertarian moments. We’re making America great again.

    1. Brings a tear to my eye…

    2. Most of those comments were eaten by squirrels.

    3. Why did you cut and paste Agammamon’s comment from the PM links? WTF?

    4. Wow, I’ve been commenting here since the blog started and I’d never realized the comment URL numbers were issued sequentially….

  7. Hickenlooper is doing a great job in making implementation successful. It has worked here but honestly he is rightly a bit wary of claiming complete success too early. The only real problem CO has had is pot tourism not locals. And while the tourism brings in dollars – CO wasn’t a tourist wasteland before. Pothead tourists aren’t the same as previous tourists (who are overwhelmingly outdoorsy/athletic). Skiing is a bit more reckless (still minor – collisions, knees, etc) and hotels geared to athletes/outdoors types in a state with a low smoking rate aren’t necessarily gleeful about a new clientele of smokers who came specifically to smoke.

    Reality is that dispensaries and pot biz are still overwhelmingly Denver and he’s governor of the entire state.

    1. Well, if you look at where the money is spent, it seems the legislature thinks Denver = the State of Colorado

  8. And it works out perfect for Hick who has shown distaste/prejudice towards cannabis users (until he started laundering tens of millions in pot tax/fee money through the state general fund and in violation of RICO), who has signed the state into contract with the FOR PROFIT PRIVATE PRISON INDUSTRY for the last 5? years. That contract promises the prison INDUSTRY 91% occupancy (and should be illegal), which the state has been unable to ‘facilitate’/’accomplish’?, which means we the people pay the for profit private prison industry a 3 million dollar a year ‘penalty’ for not fulfilling the contract.

    All the new pot PROHIBITIONS (based on the same LIES, PREJUDICE and GREED as 1937 REEFER MADNESS) will surely ‘accomplish’ the 91% fill rate/commitment in the contract….and the state will have successfully RE-BRANDED 1937 Reefer Madness/Prohibition as ‘legalization’, ‘adult use’ and ‘tax and regulate’ and the rest of the states will follow. Dare I say that it’s looking like the perpetrators (Big Government, Big Business and Mass Media) of the longest WAR in the history of the US have won the WAR. They lied about ‘legalization’ and the majority seems to support it.

  9. More like a police state with the 1,200 plus new pages of pot prohibitions being enforced…..

  10. Because it’s turned the state into something more like a police state. The enforcement of the 1,200 plus pages of NEW pot PROHIBITIONS has become the top priority instead of the lowest priority and is exactly what Hick and BIG Government dream of. There are 46 NEW pot related bills currently in by the General Assembly in the making in 2017 alone. The now 2 Constitutional Amendments providing protection for cannabis cultivators/users/distributors have been all but ignored. It can be argued that the (fake) ‘legalization’ we live (over-regulated, over taxed) with was nothing more than ENTRAPMENT/a STING OPERATION. The state has data on every MMJ patient, caregiver and consumer of A64 stores stored in the states CRIMINAL database, ‘interfaced’ with NSA/NCIC computers.

    The icing is one of the new bills racing to passage (at the bequest of Hick and working with the CO Municipal League (CML), the CO Cities Inc. (CCI) and LEO and DA’s across the state, including supposedly (self declared) ‘liberal’ DA of Boulder County, Stan Garnett) allows for WARRANTLESS house searches (‘compliance’ checks or (unconstitutional) ‘plant counts’ of 12 plants PER PROPERTY!) based on anyone claiming that they can ‘smell’ pot.

  11. HB17-1220 unconstitutionally RE-CRIMINALIZES MMJ patients, caregivers and adults over 21 under A64. Things that have been decriminalized for 17 years will ‘become’ criminal felonies in this supposedly legal state via an unconstitutional state statute….and patients and caregivers will become felons and be fined up to 100,000/1,000,000 and looking at jail time of 2-12 years for plant counts needed to keep themselves and other alive. (un-constitutinal /unscientific) Plant counts KILL.

    1. It’s almost as if the folks who wrote the statute never tried to grow any weed themselves.

  12. my Aunty Mila just got Toyota Highlander just by some part-time working online with a pc… Get More Information>>>>>>>>>>>

  13. I think everyone on this needs to let it sit for a while longer. To start home delivery and clubs, to me, is a bit fast. Enjoy the situation for what it is and let it bake for a bit longer. To me that is the only way to start bringing other people into the fold. Go too fast and bad things happen they will take down the entire package, not just the latest add ons.

  14. Well heck. Smoking marijuana isn’t NAUGHTY anymore. Who wants to do it now? You can’t express defiance and show what a big renegade you are by doing something legal.

    You can safely leave regulation out of marijuana home delivery services and pot-smokers membership clubs. While about as many minors will toke a joint as sip a beer, this will be a “minor” problem whatever you do or don’t do by passing laws in the state house. You’ll be merely enacting so much legalistic clutter of the same kind that never worked during the drug war period, anyway.

    Besides, one of the biggest voices campaigning to keep maryjane illegal was that of the criminals who used to make big black market profits on criminal pot. Legalizing it busted their game worse than law enforcement ever did, or ever could.

    1. As we all know, teenagers have no interest in drinking alcohol because it’s legal.

      I’m not sure I’m convinced that the rebellion thing is a very significant driver of youth pot smoking.

  15. “The state has data on every MMJ patient, caregiver and consumer of A64 stores stored in the states CRIMINAL database, ‘interfaced’ with NSA/NCIC computers.”

    This is the problem isn’t it? It’s the same thing with CCW “permits” – now the gov’t knows who smokes pot and has guns so if and when they decide to enforce the police state they know right where to go.

    Free individuals do not need permission from the Feds or the State to possess guns or pot.

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