Outrage Grows After Hickenlooper Vetoes Key Marijuana Bills

UPDATE: Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jared Polis weighs in–and says he would have signed them both.

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Gov. John Hickenlooper (D).

Gov. John Hickenlooper held the final bill signing ceremony of the year yesterday, but most of the conversation today is about two marijuana bills vetoed in the last two days–bills that both passed the legislature with broad bipartisan support, intended to address significant issues related to its legal use. The Colorado Springs Independent reports on the veto of House Bill 18-1258, legislation to allow limited consumption of certain marijuana products at dispensaries who set up a proper space for it:

Currently, there are no legal places in Colorado to consume marijuana outside of a private home, making it difficult for renters, out-of-state tourists, and parents with young children to enjoy dispensary purchases. It’s possible that contributed to a 471 percent increase in citations for public cannabis consumption in the first three quarters of 2014, as Colorado Public Radio reported. Westword also reported that between the time of legalization in 2014 and 2017, Boulder saw a 54 percent climb.

The bill would have limited purchases in tasting rooms to 10 milligrams active THC in an infused product or one-quarter gram of marijuana concentrate. In compliance with the Colorado Clean Indoor Air Act, customers would not have been allowed to smoke. Products would have had to be consumed on business premises.

The bill passed the Senate in late April with a 22-12 vote, and the House in early May with a 57-8 vote.

The governor’s stated reason for vetoing this legislation is the “concern” that allowing consumption of marijuana anywhere other than a private residence could lead to “additional impaired or intoxicated drivers on our roadways.” Notwithstanding the legal limbo that the absence of a legal place to consume marijuana leaves tourists in who come to our state to partake, creating a major policy conflict–by Hickenlooper’s logic, no one should ever be granted a liquor license again! After all, more places to drink would logically result in “additional impaired or intoxicated drivers on our roadways.” Right?

But our brewery owner governor doesn’t see it that way. And that’s not a good look.

The second bill vetoed by Gov. Hickenlooper has less of an economic impact, but has particularly upset parents of autistic children who earned considerable press this session in support of House Bill 18-1263–a bill to add autism spectrum disorder to the list of qualifying conditions for obtaining a medical marijuana card. CBS Denver:

Before Hickenlooper’s decision, parents of children with autism gathered outside the governor’s office at the state Capitol.

“We ask that the governor help our children. Our kids are dying. We can’t wait another year,” said Michelle Walker whose son has autism…

One mother brought prescription bottles to show what her child has taken. She came in hopes of legalizing marijuana for autism.

Hickenlooper’s statement to reporters after vetoing this bill seemed to go much farther than his official statement on the veto, which claimed the bill was vetoed “on the sole concern” that not enough study had been done on the usefulness of marijuana in the treatment of autism. But as the Denver Post reports:

“If we sign that bill we end up, without question, in some way encouraging more young people to look at this as an antidote for their problems,” he told reporters before turning down the legislation, House Bill 1263. [Pols emphasis]

For the families of autistic children who pleaded with the governor to sign this bill, and who won the public’s sympathy this spring with a high-visibility media campaign highlighting what their families go through and how marijuana has helped, this high-handed sermonizing about the message to “young people” is a shocking insult. This bill was not about enabling drug use by kids, it’s about treating a serious disorder on par with any of the qualifying conditions for medical marijuana today. That’s why the bill passed by a lopsided 53-11 margin in the House and near-unanimous 32-3 in the Senate.

Along with other recent lurches to the right like Hickenlooper’s endorsement of a work requirement for Medicaid and lip service to re-criminalizing marijuana entirely, these vetoes seem to be political moves to “sanitize” himself politically for a possible run for higher office. We don’t know exactly who is giving Hickenlooper the advice to take these actions, but it’s exactly the wrong way for him to be moving politically. Undoing any good will with the proponents of the autism bill by dismissing their concerns as an attempt to promote adolescent drug use, and punting the huge unresolved issue of legal marijuana consumption, is not how a governor shows leadership.

It’s how you prove you don’t deserve to be President.

17 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. PseudonymousPseudonymous says:

    You stoners better start knocking doors for Polis!  Also, Hick gonna Hick– this is entirely in character and he'll never be president.  Although, he may just have put "Senator Hick" out of reach, too.

  2. Duke CoxDuke Cox says:

    A well written piece, Alva.

    Governer "Tokin'stopper" proved his hypocrisy in his role as Governer " Frackenlooper”. He has never apologized to Colorado for his blatent mendacity about drinking fracking fluid..he willingly participated in a sham designed to protect the O&G industry from liability.

    I particularly like the last line in your story. Until John Hickenlooper decides to show some respect for the people of Colorado, he does not deserve to hold another government leadership role. 

  3. ZappateroZappatero says:

    He never has been or will be VP material. Any Pres talk from anyone is stupid. He might make a “good” daft Senator in the Gardner mold. I’d even give my World’s Best Senator more praise than Hick. 

  4. MichaelBowmanMichaelBowman says:

    Voltaire said "No problem can withstand the assault of sustained thinking."  Ending Prohibition wasn't the experiment…Prohibition was the experiment.  It failed. Miserably. It did, however, work out really, really well for the private prison industry and old white men wanting to keep people of color in their place.  

    Thank God(dess) we have choices this cycle that understand this stain on our history and aren't running away from the issue.

     

  5. NotHopeful says:

    I disagree with this diary.

    I voted for legalization of marijuana, and I'm glad I did, but I did not contemplate or expect that pot would be made available in "tasting rooms" (which would ostensibly function sort of like bars). I assumed, and I think most supporters of legalization did, too, that pot would be consumed in the privacy of the home.

    This state does not need marijuana bars. There are public safety questions relating to that. We have enough problems with drivers under the influence of alcohol. Why raise the chance that we'd have more drivers under the influence of marijuana?

    As for the second bill, the question is whether there is any reliable scientific evidence that would support a claim that marijuana helps autism patients. If not, then we should not expand children's access to marijuana. If autism treatment advocates have that evidence, I'd be interested in seeing it. If it's convincing, then yes, I'd be open to making medical marijuana cards available to those patients. Without that scientific evidence, we'd simply be guessing about the health benefits at the cost of more minors using a drug that is not without side effects and health impacts itself.

    Hickenlooper's decisions here strike me as reasonable. And they also will show to voters in non-marijuana states that every Colorado politician is not thinking under a green cloud.

    • JohnInDenver says:

      "Why raise the chance that we'd have more drivers under the influence of marijuana?"

      For all those who do not have their own home here in the state, which would you prefer?

      * Regulated locations with a vested interest in having the product consumed safely, with limited amounts and probably some incentive to have designated drivers, OR

       * Unregulated use, such as the now prevalent public consumption in locations (including cars) with no limits on amounts and incentives to "keep out of sight"?

    • MichaelBowmanMichaelBowman says:

      What part of the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana like Alcohol made you think we wouldn't someday be treated with the same accommodations as the alcohol industry? 

      • NotHopeful says:

        That would be the part of the amendment I actually voted for, which provides that consumption of marijuana shall not be permitted "openly and publicly."

        • MichaelBowmanMichaelBowman says:

          Since when is a ‘tasing room considered ‘open and public? (Private enterprise; 21 years old to enter) I’m not in favor of people walking down the street smoking, just like we don’t let folks consume alcohol outdoors without special permits. Tasting rooms / cannabis clubs are a reasonable accommodation. 

  6. mamajama55mamajama55 says:

    nothopeful:

    Some autism symptoms and seizure disorders are calmed by CBD derived from hemp. While both "marijuana" and hemp are cannabis varieties, hemp has no THC.

    Those medical studies are ongoing right now:

    University of California San Diego 30 patients, clinical trial vs placebo: Newsweek

    New York University,  Montefiore Med. Ctr, with D o D – 100 patients vs placebo, CBDV (non psychoactive cannabinoid), clinical trial

    Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, observation of symptoms, study working with autistic children who are already legally taking medical marijuana. : Autism Parenting Magazine

    Shaare Zedek Medical Center, Israel, 120 autistic children, with CBD vs placebo: USA Today

     

     

    • MichaelBowmanMichaelBowman says:

      Great post, MJ.  Last night I was part of a group of nearly 100 people (seven were medical doctors) who had a really impressive presentation by Stuart Tomc of CV Sciences on CBD and our ECS (endocannabinoid system).  There is a lot we do not yet know; there is also a lot we do know about how cannabinoids and THC work within the ECS system and how it can be an effective alternative to remedies we use today.  

      This all goes back to the root of the problem often narrated on this page by folks (generally) in the 'anti-cannabis space': they'll say there is no proof that it's safe or effective because it hasn't been researched.  It can't be researched because it's on Schedule 1 of the Controlled Substances Act (let's just all agree that's an erroneous scheduling?).  Politicians historically wouldn't touch this issue because of the (erroneous) scheduling, thinking the issue is poison, politically and browbeat by DEA who've perpetuated the erroneous myths about the plant.  

      Then comes along a brave politician who sees the problem and takes a brave stand (or three)…and the dominos start falling – and the eight decades of lies begin to unravel. 

    • MichaelBowmanMichaelBowman says:

      There’s a good website where you can type into the search engine ‘cannabinouds xxx’ (fill in the medical condition: fibromyalgia, autism, diabetes, inflammation, etc) and every medical research paper related to the issue will come up. 

      http://www.pubmed.gov

    • NotHopeful says:

      As I understand it, these studies are not yet concluded. Therefore, we have no data that would support any conclusion that autism patients benefit from marijuana use.

      • MichaelBowmanMichaelBowman says:

        There were apparently a plethora of parents who chose to testify on this issue that would push back on your conclusion.  Full disclosure: I have an autistic nephew. 

  7. NotHopeful says:

    I read this article in Newsweek, having no prior familiarity with this question of whether antipsychotic cannabidiol (CBD) might help autism patients. Clearly, this is an interesting question and I do agree that research on this would be very valuable. 

    If it can help, then I would agree that the law should make CBD available to kids with autism.

    But I also think we do need to help assure public support by looking to peer-reviewed medical research and not just anecdotal reports before we extend medical marijuana access to minors.

    http://www.newsweek.com/2018/02/23/really-good-weed-why-cannabis-may-be-worlds-most-effective-remedy-core-806758.html

     

    • MichaelBowmanMichaelBowman says:

      Thanks to the pioneering work of Coloradans passing Amendment 64 in 2012, Congressman Polis’ passage of Farm Bill Section 7606 in the House in 2013, a recent ruling by the Federal Court and internal guidance at DEA, hemp-derived CBD is deemed *not* subject to the Controlled Substances Act. The World Health Organization has recently concluded it had a good safety profile.  CBD nourishes our endocannabimoid system. 

      This issue is obviously separate and distinct from the legislation subject to the Governor’s veto. 

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