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Colorado’s Governor Is Finally Getting Chill About Legal Weed

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Colorado Governor John HickenlooperAndy Cross—Denver Post

Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper used to be opposed to legal recreational cannabis, but he’s now changing his tune.

During a panel discussion at the Milken Institute Global Conference on Monday, the Democratic Governor said he is that he opposed the 2012 referendum that led to a constitutional amendment in the state legalizing recreational cannabis. But he’s starting to think his opposition was wrong. “If I had a magic wand after the election and reversed that decision, I would have done it,” the Governor said. “Now I’m not sure I’d wave it.”

What’s changed his mind? For one, legal weed has become a billion dollar industry in his state, and the Colorado government has done what he calls an “excellent job” at creating a very involved regulatory framework to make sure the product is safe and out of the hands of minors. It also has meant “hundreds of millions of dollars” in new tax revenue that can be used for public safety, mental health, and addiction-prevention programs.

Hickenlooper says he still advises other governors to wait a few more years before they push legalization in their home states so that we can gauge what unintended consequences might arise from legal weed, but “it’s beginning to look like it might work.”