CO: Hypocrite Hickenlooper Courts “Reckless” Pot Support from NORML for Re-Election Bid (With Audio)

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On Monday, incumbent Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper, who is struggling in a battle against GOP Bob Beauprez for re-election, stuck a huge knife in the backs of cannabis consumers who voted for cannabis regulation in his state by stating during a Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce debate, “Any governor that looks at doing this before we see what the consequences are, I would view it as reckless.”

He twisted the knife further by continuing with, “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.”

By Tuesday evening, it was clear he regretted the gaffe, and instead told International Business Times that “risky” would have been more accurate. Frankly, it’s a bit too little too late, as at least to most in the cannabis industry who have felt shunned and treated unequally to their alcohol industry counterparts.

Beer Keg Looper

“With my people at Great American Beer Fest. Cheers to all the craft beer lovers & brewers out there!” – Hickenlooper, October 4 via Twitter

For a man who made his fortune by brewing beer, and even had beer taps installed at the governor’s mansion, the hypocrisy was a bit much, “reckless” even. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), “Excessive alcohol use led to approximately 88,000 deaths and 2.5 million years of potential life lost (YPLL) each year in the United States from 2006 – 2010, shortening the lives of those who died by an average of 30 years. Further, excessive drinking was responsible for 1 in 10 deaths among working-age adults aged 20-64 years. The economic costs of excessive alcohol consumption in 2006 were estimated at $223.5 billion, or $1.90 a drink.”

Allen St. Pierre, Executive Director of NORML remarked, “If I were a resident of Colorado and had a business related to cannabis in the state, I would want my governor to commit one way or the other and stop trying to have it both ways. Either he’s a person who believes adults can access these products just like they do alcohol, or he’s not. And behind the scenes, he believes otherwise. He believes this is an industry, he believes the industry’s viable, he appreciates the industry’s taxes. So he needs to be much clearer regarding what he believes adults in Colorado should be able to do in the privacy of their homes, which is what the law relegates people to right now. That’s a lot different than walking around with the President of the United States in a beer hall.” 

This past June, Hickenlooper placed a fundraising call to a board member of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), inviting him to come to a restaurant in Nashville where “Some friends are hosting a fundraiser.” It was quite interesting and even slightly infuriatingly amusing to hear his uncomfortable schmooze pitch when he’s rarely been publicly supportive of regulated cannabis in his state. 


Download Audio:

“Hi, Paul! This is John Hickenlooper, of Colorado. I’m the…Governor of Colorado on a good day. On a bad day, I’m that…that bum. Anyway, I’m gonna be in Nashville this weekend for…uh the National Governor’s Association…uh…and some friends are hosting a fundraiser. I’m running for re-election in November…uh…at Etch Restaurant on Thursday at 12:30. And I thought you’ve been involved with NORML, if you still are, or at least from what I’ve..I’ve…pulled off the internet. Uh, anyway, I think Colorado is pretty far down that road and…uh…I’ve done a lot of…uh…I think I’ve done a lot  of good work in terms of really uh…getting people’s anxiety diminished and..and…regulating it rigorously but the same time working towards a future that is…where it’s on equal level with alcohol. Anyway, you can give my assistant Riley Boff
(spells it out), a call (provides number). Uh… would love to…uh…get a chance to meet with you if you get a chance on Thursday…Talk to you later, bye.

Read more:
DENVER: Mayor Hancock Needs to Thank the Cannabis Industry for $3.5 Million
High, Colorado: Visiting Denver in the Age of Legal Weed


Highlights of regulation in Colorado released in June according to the Drug Policy Alliance’s Six Month Status Report Post-Marijuana Regulation in Colorado:

Crime rates are down in Denver, according to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting data. There has been a1 0.1% decrease in overall crime from 2013 and a 5.2% drop in violent crime.

Burglary and robbery rates at marijuana dispensaries have also dropped since legal sales began on January 1.

This early crime data stands in contrast to concerns of a potential increase in crime after legalization.

According to the state’s department of revenue, the first four months of legal marijuana sales have resulted in $10.8 million in taxes.

Governor Hickenlooper estimated sales in all marijuana stores will approach$1 billion for the 2014 fiscal year. Retail store sales are estimated to account for more than $600 million of that, more than 50 percent higher than initially projected.

Though many industry advocates believe this estimate to be exaggerated, there will undoubtedly be increased tax revenues from retail marijuana sales. $40 million of the tax revenue raised through marijuana sales will be allocated to improving Colorado schools. The Colorado Department of Revenue estimates that approximately $1.9 million ofthis $40 million has been raised so far. Other tax revenue is proposed for youth and public education campaigns about marijuana.

Amendment 64 removed criminal penalties for certain marijuana-related offenses. According to the Colorado Center on Law and Policy, the state could save an estimated $12-40 million over the span of a year by reducing criminal penalties

Others have estimated the state spends over $60 million enforcing marijuana prohibition at the levels now legal, so the CCLP estimate is probably on the conservative side.) Over the last decade, the state averaged more than 10,000 arrests and citations every year for minor marijuana possession at the levels now legal in the state.

Gov. Hickenlooper compared Colorado’s economy since legalization to that of other states by noting,“While the rest of the country’s economy is slowly picking back up, we’re thriving here in Colorado.”

Demand for commercial real estate has increased drastically, with houses in the state appreciating 8.7 percent in this timeframe.

SEE: Colorado Cannabis Commercial Real Estate with Avalon Realty Advisors with Ladybud Magazine

The marijuana industry has developed quickly, generating hundreds of new jobs. The Marijuana Industry Group (MIG) estimates there are currently about 10,000 people directly involved with this industry, with 1,000 to 2,000 gaining employment in the past few months alone.

There is a growing need for everything from greenhouses and fertilizer to pipes and vaporizers, compounding the economic benefits.
After nearly six full months of regulated marijuana sales in Colorado, a majority of the state remains in favor of legalization and regulation. Initially, only two state legislators endorsed the constitutional amendment. Denver’s mayor opposed it, as did Gov.Hickenlooper. However, Hickenlooper recently noted, after talking to an array of Colorado CEOs and companies looking to move to Colorado, that “they don’t see it (marijuana legalization) as a workforce problem or an image problem” and that he is less concerned with legalization negatively impacting Colorado’s economy.
The voters of Colorado have an overall positive view of the experiment, with 54% of Colorado voters still supporting marijuana legalization and regulation.
The state Department of Marijuana Enforcement has been actively engaged in a rule making process for retail marijuana sales that has included diverse representation from multiple stakeholders including elected state officials, parents, members of the marijuana industry, and consumers. Currently, there are extensive rules concerning packaging, labeling and safety warnings for all retail marijuana products – including edible marijuana products – sold in the state. Efforts to refine these regulations are ongoing.

 INFOGRAPHIC: GREEN STATES Legalized Marijuana and Its Impact on Colorado and Washington