CO governor says pot legalization was 'reckless'
Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper, locked in a tight re-election race, was forced to admit that the ballot initiative that legalized pot was "reckless" and that he'd urge other states to wait until the consequences of legalization became clearer.
The Governor of Colorado, the first US state to legalize cannabis for recreational use, has said the decision of his voters was "reckless".
John Hickenlooper, a Democrat who is seeking re-election for a second term, was asked during a debate what he would say to other states considering similar measures.
He said: "I would view it as reckless before we see what the consequences are."
The Governor added: "I think for us to do that without having all the data, there is not enough data, and to a certain extent you could say it was reckless.
"I'm not saying it was reckless because I'll get quoted everywhere, but if it was up to me I wouldn't have done it right? I opposed it from the very beginning. In matter of fact, all right what the hell, I'll say it was reckless."
Mr Hickenlooper opposed the decision taken by voters in a ballot in November 2012 at the time.
The first licensed shops selling cannabis for recreational use opened in the state on Jan 1 this year.
The latest estimate from the state, arrived at last month, suggested it can expect to receive around $50 million (£31 million) a year in taxes levied on sales of the drug.
But Mr Hickenlooper suggested other states should wait.
Alaska votes on whether to become the third US state, after Colorado and Washington state, to legalize recreational use in a ballot measure in November.
The law has been in effect less than a year and. so far, statistics on its impact on society and culture have been few and far between. Meanwhile, a massive 20 year study on the effects of long term cannibis use was just published and critics of legalization have jumped on the study's conclusions to bolster their case.
The paper by Professor Wayne Hall, a drugs advisor to the World Health Organisation, builds a compelling case against those who deny the devastation cannabis wreaks on the brain. Professor Hall found:
- One in six teenagers who regularly smoke the drug become dependent on it,
- Cannabis doubles the risk of developing psychotic disorders, including schizophrenia,
- Cannabis users do worse at school. Heavy use in adolescence appears to impair intellectual development
- One in ten adults who regularly smoke the drug become dependent on it and those who use it are more likely to go on to use harder drugs,
- Driving after smoking cannabis doubles the risk of a car crash, a risk which increases substantially if the driver has also had a drink,
- Smoking it while pregnant reduces the baby’s birth weight.
These are the effects observed of heavy use over many years. "Heavy use" is not defined in the article, but in other studies, it can mean daily use of 1-5 joints. I daresay you take any drug that often, there are going to be very bad side effects.
I've found that no study will convince those who believe pot is harmless that there are risks involved, nor will any study convince anti-legalization supporters that pot isn't the devil's weed. This study mostly confirms previous research, although the addiction numbers are surprising. Perhaps rather than legalization, de-criminalization would be a more prudent first step. Gauge the consequences and then proceed to legalization.
Decriminalization would unclog the courts and prevent otherwise law abiding citizens from being thrown into jail, while stopping short of encouraging cannibis use by legalizing it. Both Colorado and Washington, who also legalized pot sales, will be watched closely over the next few years as the unintended consequences of the law filter down.