Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper addressed California lawmakers this week to share advice on how his state has handled the rollout of legal marijuana. At a California Senate Governance and Finance committee oversight hearing, the governor discussed issues that his state has faced since legalizing and described ways that the state could have handled these issues better.
“It’s one of the hardest things we’ve ever done, one of the hardest things I’ve ever done in public life, but also one of the things I’m most proud of,” Hickenlooper said.
Hickenlooper advised California lawmakers to keep a tight leash on home-grow regulations. In Colorado, medical marijuana patients can grow up to 99 plants, which Hickenlooper says is a “stupid system” that has spawned a “grey market” and allowed pot to be sold to other states. The governor also lamented not regulating marijuana edibles better from the start. The state has since improved product-labeling protocols and banned cannabis products that appeared attractive to children.
The governor also advised California to develop strong pesticide protocols. “These are really vexing issues that you’re going to have some challenges on,” he said. Regardless of the difficulties, Colorado's legalization experience has been largely positive. Health officials have not seen a boost in either teen or overall marijuana use, and taxes collected on the drug can fund programs to address unexpected consequences of legalization.
“The United States now has almost two-thirds of the country — I think it’s 64 percent of the people in America — lives in a state that has either legalized medical or recreational marijuana,” Hickenlooper said. “I think it’s going to be one of the great social experiments of the first half of the 21st century. And the more we work together, the more we can help each other, the better the outcome will be for our citizens.”