Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper Changes Stance on Cannabis, Says Legalization Can Work

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To say that Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper has been less than enthusiastic about presiding over the legalization of recreational cannabis in his state would be quite an understatement. During campaign season last fall, he called legalization “reckless.” Of course, that opinion hadn’t stopped him from courting  funding from NORML for his re-election. His inability to take a firm, positive stance on something with a broad base of support in his state has been frustrating for cannabis activists, in Colorado and elsewhere.

In a pleasant turn of events, it looks like Hickenlooper may have finally come around on the issue of marijuana legalization. On the January 11th, 2015 edition of the long-running, highly-respected CBS news program 60 Minutes, the show’s focus was on legal cannabis in Colorado. CBS reporter Bill Whitaker did an in-depth review of the cannabis industry and its impact on Colorao, including touring the inside of Megan Sanders’ MiNDFUL industrial grow operation and a discussion with her about the social implication of legalization. The episode also featured a surprisingly positive interview with Hickenlooper.

Hickenlooper even points out the damage that not having access to traditional banking systems does to the cannabis industry, a surprisingly progressive concept. He also makes it clear he has slowly been changing his opinion on the matter. In his interview, he tells Whitaker,  “No. I opposed it (the legalization initiative)…and I think even after the election, if I’d had a magic wand and I could wave the wand, I probably would’ve reversed it and had the initiative fail…But now I look at it…and I think we’ve made a lot of progress…still a lot of work to be done. But I think we might actually create a system that can work.”

 The episode also featured an interview with Andrew Freedman, the state marijuana czar who has helped create the state edibles program. Edibles, or food infused with cannabis or cannabis extracts, have drawn a lot of negative, hyperbolic media attention in the last year, from Maureen Dowd’s much-discussed edible overdose to the Denver Police Department’s weak attempt at Halloween trick-or-treating reefer madness. Still, Freedman is proud of the work they have done to address the issue and the rules that have been put in place and the speed with which they are implemented. He does warn, however, that if the next President is less supportive of the state’s great legalization experiment, that could be the end of the program.

 Those who missed the CBS news program 60 Minutes special on cannabis can view the episode on the show’s website. The site permits non-subscribers to view one episode for free without registering. This is just the latest in the national trend of major mainstream media outlets providing positive coverage to legalization and even backing federal legalization. As 2015 gets rolling, news coverage like this will help keep marijuana’s positive cultural momentum going.

For previous Ladybud Magazine coverage of cannabis legalization in Colorado, click here!

Photo Credit: Jeffrey Beall under  (CC BY-SA 2.0) via Flickr