A new story on cannabis culture news site Herb argues strongly that Rep. Jared Polis is the candidate for governor of Colorado best suited to champion he state’s legal marijuana industry–after the current Gov. John Hickenlooper disappointed marijuana advocates with his on-again-off-again support following the passage of Amendment 64 in 2012:
After ten years in Congress, vocal cannabis reform advocate Jared Polis is now looking to become the Governor of Colorado. Polis, currently a representative for Colorado’s second district, is running on an ambitious campaign to provide the state with 100% renewable energy by 2040 as well as implement a single-payer health care plan. But as governor of the first state to legalize recreational marijuana, he would also preside over a cannabis market which has set the tone for the rest of the country.
Since Colorado legalized in 2012, reform advocates have cited Colorado’s tax revenues and falling crime rates as a reason to legalize nationally while opponents have claimed that out of state smuggling has flooded surrounding states with organized crime. As a result, the success or failure of Colorado’s recreational market could define national policy and a pot-friendly governor like Polis could make all the difference…
“We also need to make sure that Colorado’s businesses encourage diversity and provide economic opportunities to every qualified individual,” says Polis. “The cannabis industry is attractive to men and women of all backgrounds and races.”
The solution, Polis has suggested, is a commission of lawmakers, citizens, and industry professionals to audit the effectiveness of Colorado’s current regulations. It’s no doubt that Polis will be missed among reform advocates in Congress, but if he’s able to smooth out the kinks in his state’s cannabis industry, he could still have an impact nationwide by setting a precedent for all the states looking to legalize in the next two years.
When Colorado became the first state to legalize the sale and use of marijuana by adults without any license or medical prescription, it was risky territory for the state. The initial reaction from Gov. Hickenlooper and many other local political leaders in both parties was one of caution, with great doubt over whether the federal government would ever allow the legal retail sale of marijuana to begin.
Six years after Amendment 64, Colorado’s nervous foray into legal marijuana sales has become a model that other states have followed–most prominently the state of California, whose retail marijuana operations began at the beginning of this year. Today, the rush of larger states to legalize marijuana has taken the pressure off Colorado as a petri dish for an uncertain experiment. The explosive growth and maturation of the marijuana industry has unquestionably validated the wisdom of legalization in 2012, and makes Gov. Hickenlooper’s recent well-publicized fumbles on the issue seem terribly out of touch.
In the first post-Hickenlooper gubernatorial election, it will be very interesting to see how much influence the marijuana business wields. Whatever Hickenlooper says from day to day, public support for legal weed remains strong–so we don’t see Republicans campaigning in 2018 on a Reefer Madness platform of recriminalization. That means candidates will be jockeying to be the industry’s friend–and Polis has the bonafides here.