Is Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper coming around on legal weed?

Colorado Governor John HickenlooperHickenlooper opposed marijuana legalization when it appeared on the ballot in 2012. After it passed, he said he would enact it but still thought it unwise. That point of view may be changing, if slowly.

In an interview with the Fox Business Network in late April, the governor acknowledged that legal recreational cannabis has been a boon to the state’s finances. In fact, he said, the industry has helped make Colorado one of the most fiscally healthy states in the country.

Marijuana reform went smoother than anticipated

The details of enacting marijuana reform, he said, have proven to be “not as vexing” as he worried when he fought legalization in 2012. Though he was not initially friendly with the Colorado weed industry, many there say he’s been a fair, proactive enforcer of the state’s cannabis law and one of the reasons it has worked so well.

The program, Hickenlooper says, is both widely popular, especially among younger Coloradans, and an economic benefit to the state. It has produced countless jobs and business opportunities, transactions that were once the province of the illegal black market but now happen in the open, with regulation.

“It’s all those young people coming and they look at marijuana and say, ‘Hey, we can drink whiskey, why can’t we have a legalized system with marijuana?'” the governor told Fox. “If you look back, it has turned out to be not as vexing as some of the people like myself” thought it would be.

Progress being made in Colorado

buds in jars pot shopHickenlooper said Colorado officials are busy “building a regulatory system, making sure we keep (marijuana) out of the hands of kids, making sure we keep our streets and roads safe.” This marks a pretty substantial turnaround from his past position, including a past comment that “Colorado is known for many great things – marijuana should not be one of them.”

He never threatened to interfere with the law once it was passed, and instead promised to vigorously enact the voters’ will despite his own misgivings. Observers in Colorado say he’s done exactly that.

Among other accomplishments, Hicknlooper was instrumental in passing new regulations protecting cannabis users from overdosing on powerful edibles. Though not fatal, over-consumption of THC can have negative effects; edibles have been connected to two fatalities in Colorado, though not as a cause of death.

The governor also worked with regulators to make sure the licensing process was smooth and timely. Colorado was widely praised for its efficient, trouble-free roll-out of legal pot in January 2014. Washington, the only other state to legalize in 2012, ran into early problems because of poor timing and slow bureaucracy.

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