Colorado's Governor on Marijuana Legalization

John Hickenlooper opposed voter efforts to end prohibition. Now he is charged with implementing one of the first recreational weed markets in America. 
Reuters

ASPEN, Colo.—Governor John Hickenlooper, a Democrat, opposed voter efforts to make marijuana legal in his state. Now he is charged with implementing legalization. He spoke about those efforts in a Tuesday interview with Katie Couric at the Aspen Ideas Festival, which The Atlantic co-hosts with the Aspen Institute.

Here are the 10 statements he made that I found most noteworthy:

1) As Colorado attempts to build its brand as a healthy state, marijuana "dilutes what you're trying to do."

2) "I think decriminalization would've been a wiser first step."

3) One of the best things about marijuana legalization: "I think the black market has been damaged. I think people are willing to pay taxes and to go through pretty rigorous regulation."

4) "Some of the anxiety has been laid to rest. We don't see a spike in adult use. We don't think we see a spike in youth consumption although there are some things that are disconcerting."

5) One of the governor's concerns: "This high-THC marijuana, what can it do to a brain that is still developing?"

6) One of the governor's complaints: federal rules that prohibit dispensary owners from putting their money in banks. "If you really want to introduce corruption into legal marijuana," he said, "make it an all cash business."

7) On unanticipated problems: There's been "a dramatic increase in edibles." And "no one had ever worried about dosage sizes. The original edibles that came out, once you took the packaging off there was nothing to show it was any different than candy."

8) "We have tax revenue that's going to allow us to look in a much more comprehensive way at intervening in addiction."

9) On what motivated Colorado voters: "Let's face it, the War on Drugs was a disaster. It may be well intentioned ... but it sent millions of kids to prison, gave them felonies often times when they had no violent crimes ... I was against this, but I can see why so many people supported it." 

10) "We have a responsibility and an obligation to do everything we can to try to make this work."

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Conor Friedersdorf is a staff writer at The Atlantic, where he focuses on politics and national affairs. He lives in Venice, California, and is the founding editor of The Best of Journalism, a newsletter devoted to exceptional nonfiction.

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