Recreational marijuana is now legal for adults to purchase in Colorado. Those same adults have been able to possess and consume pot legally since 2012, when voters approved Amendment 64. But the state's Democratic governor said he "hates" his state's legal weed "experiment."
Gov. John Hickenlooper revealed his feelings about marijuana legalization to the Durango Herald's editorial board Friday.
“I hate Colorado having to be the experiment,” he told the newspaper.
The governor said he intends the regulation of legal weed to be even more strenuous than alcohol. “We are going to regulate the living daylights out of it,” he told the Herald.
Hickenlooper was a beer brewer before governor and made his fortune from selling alcoholic beverages -- a fortune that wouldn't have been possible had the U.S. not ended its prohibition on alcohol in 1933. The irony that he hates the the end of another drug's prohibition in Colorado was not lost on Marijuana Policy Project's communications director, Mason Tvert.
"I doubt Gov. Hickenlooper felt like he was participating in an experiment when he was making a living selling alcohol in a legal market," Tvert told The Huffington Post. "Our state has been successfully regulating alcohol for quite some time, so regulating a less harmful substance like marijuana is hardly something new. Does the governor want to go back to a system in which cartels control marijuana instead of licensed businesses and thousands of responsible adults are punished each year simply for using it? We let that experiment go on for 80 years and it never worked."
Tvert also called out the governor for suggesting that marijuana should be more heavily regulated than alcohol. "Every objective study on marijuana has concluded that it is less toxic than alcohol, less addictive, and less likely to contribute to violent and reckless behavior," Tvert said. "If he is truly concerned about public health, he should be encouraging adults to consider making the safer choice to use marijuana instead of alcohol when they are socializing or relaxing after work."
Nevertheless, Hickenlooper has been a vocal opponent of legal weed, often citing concerns over underage marijuana use.
"Just as we must implement the voters’ wishes on marijuana, we are obligated to make sure that parents and children understand brain development and the risks of underage use," Hickenlooper said during his recent State of the State address. "We are committed to a securing a safe, regulated and responsible environment. This is going to be one of the great social experiments of this century, and while not all of us chose it or supported it, being first means that we all share a responsibility to do it properly."
The legal marijuana industry is predicted to grow to $2.3 billion in 2014 in the U.S. In five years, it could balloon to a $10 billion industry.