Midnight tonight will trigger the beginning of a new year and, in Colorado, a new era for the marijuana industry -- but don't expect all of the politicians to be there.
Neither the state's Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper nor Denver's Democratic Mayor Michael Hancock have plans to be present during any of the retail marijuana grand openings even though the industry is estimated to bring in $3.4 million a year in municipal sales taxes as well as nearly $70 million in tax revenue for the state.
As The Denver Post first reported, their absence from the industry's legal debut highlights the trepidation with which elected officials have treated this historically controversial, yet voter-backed measure.
Both Hickenlooper and Hancock have made public statements in opposition to Amendment 64, which legalized recreational marijuana use and sales in Colorado.
Shortly before the passage of Amendment 64, Hickenlooper said he opposed the measure.
"Colorado is known for many great things -- marijuana should not be one of them," the governor said in a statement in 2012.
The Colorado Independent's columnist Mike Littwin reflected on the Hickenlooper and Hancock's absence:
Our politicians are, of course, scared to death by the whole idea. I loved the Denver City Council debate on trying to make the new rules. You can smoke pot, just so long as no one can see it or smell it. Come on, smelling pot is almost as good as smoking it. Smelling it is this wink that you’re in on the secret. Warm smell of colitas…
Yet at least one Denver city councilman is planning on attending.
"I'm just going to observe. But I do not expect to see anyone offer a key to the city," Brown said.
Several other elected state and city officials are also expected to be out and in attendance at various events throughout the day speaking about the historic nature of the new marijuana laws.
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