As Presidential Candidate, Former Colorado Governor Confronts Conflicted Legacy Of Pot Legalization

Several Democratic hopefuls for 2020 say they support legalizing marijuana at the federal level. But the potential nominee from our region who oversaw the legalization of the drug is his state, has reservations.

As a presidential candidate, Colorado’s John Hickenlooper is focusing on his regrets over how the legalization process unfolded in his state. Specifically, he told Denver’s Channel 9 News that he wishes he’d regulated edible marijuana more tightly.

“It took us two years to create regulations to rein that back in,” he said.

He does support lowering the plant’s federal status so that it’s not a schedule 1 narcotic, but he doesn’t support full legalization at the national level. Instead he thinks it should be up to the states to decide.

Mason Tvert, with the Marijuana Policy Project, a legalization advocacy nonprofit, said he’s not surprised by Hickenlooper’s stance.

“I think John Hickenlooper has a history of miscalculating the politics and public opinion surrounding marijuana and marijuana policy and I think he’s still having trouble with it,” said Tvert.

As Colorado’s governor, Hickenlooper opposed the voter initiative that made Colorado one of the first states to legalize recreational marijuana for adults.

This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, KUER in Salt Lake City and KRCC and KUNC in Colorado.