Cannabis Governors Talk Legalization


Meeting in Washington this weekend, the National Governors Association discussed, among other things, the legalization of cannabis. Some say the buzz around the marijuana legalization talks is just smoke. The state executives, looking to Colorado and Washington for the experience the two pioneer states have gained since their recent legalization, appear to be taking a cautious approach on the topic.

It’s been nearly three months since Colorado legalized the recreational use of marijuana, but Governor John Hickenlooper warns other governors not to rush into following his lead on the matters of cannabis. The state executives, both Democratic and Republican, are reported to have expressed a broad concern, not only for children, but also for public safety, in the case of growing and spreading use of recreational marijuana consumption.

He said he’s been approached by half a dozen governors inquiring about Colorado’s experience, some of whom felt this was a wave coming their way.

When being asked by other governors, as he frequently has, he states that they don’t have facts, and further he says that they have insufficient data to predict what the unintended consequences may be, so he urges caution. In conclusion, the democrat added that he’d wait a few years, rather than rush forward to legalize cannabis.

States are closely observing Washington and Colorado, as these national pioneers establish themselves after their initiative to legalize recreational consumption of marijuana. A group of marijuana supporters now hopes to add Alaska to the list, making it the third state.

While confirming that Colorado’s early tax revenue collections on pot sales have exceeded their projections and their expectations, Hickenlooper still cautioned that tax revenue alone is absolutely the wrong reason to even consider the legalization of recreational marijuana.

Medical marijuana however, is currently legal in 20 states and the District of Columbia. In the state of Florida, a vote will be conducted in November where a proposed constitutional amendment legalizing medical cannabis consumption will come to a decision. The Obama administration has given states a  green light to further conduct their own experiments with the marijuana regulation.

President Obama himself recently made the headlines in an interview where he stated that he didn’t consider marijuana to be more harmful than alcohol in terms of the impact it has on the individual consumer. He further added that he wouldn’t encourage people to smoke marijuana, and that he’d told his daughters he thinks it’s a bad idea, a waste of time and also not very healthy.

Democratic Governor Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire stated herself to be opposed to the idea of cannabis legalization because the rate of substance abuse, being high among the youth, is already a struggle in her state. She did, however, call for a comprehensive look at our sentencing practices and overall criminal laws, adding that she doesn’t think they youth should have a criminal record for a first offence nor be sent to jail.

Another Democrat, Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley, formerly a mayor of Baltimore, a city where drug addiction has been a struggle, said that in a matter of a few years, Colorado’s experience would speak for itself, whether they’d manage to reduce harm without other, possibly unforeseen, adverse impacts. He also added that most job opportunities for the youth in his state, coming from agencies and firms of the federal sector, require a drug test. He concluded that he doesn’t believe for the sake of economic and, as previously noted, opportunity reasons, that Maryland should serve as a laboratory of democracy.

Another Democrat, Washington state Governor Jay Inslee, said his state was succeeding in creating a legal hemp market and offered some advice to his colleagues. He said their will was to de-criminalize marijuana and so far it’s working well.

Last year, the Justice Department announced that as long as the state-legal marijuana businesses follow the given series of strict guidelines, it would largely stay clear. The memo was not to give a carte blanche to all would-be marijuana entrepreneurs, but the legal pot market found it encouraging.The Obama administration has further provided banks with guidance on how to approach business with cannabis companies, as of earlier this month, in an effort to make them more comfortable working with licensed and regulated marijuana businesses.

By Halldor Fannar Sigurgeirsson

NBC News

5 Responses to "Cannabis Governors Talk Legalization"

  1. Robert Chase   February 23, 2014 at 10:03 pm

    where is my post?

  2. Brian Kelly   February 23, 2014 at 8:10 pm

    The “War on Marijuana” has been a complete and utter failure. It is the largest component of the broader yet equally unsuccessful “War on Drugs” that has cost our country over a trillion dollars.

    Instead of The United States wasting Billions upon Billions more of our tax dollars fighting a never ending “War on Marijuana”, lets generate Billions of dollars, and improve the deficit instead. It’s a no brainer.

    The Prohibition of Marijuana has also ruined the lives of many of our loved ones. In numbers greater than any other nation, our loved ones are being sent to jail and are being given permanent criminal records which ruin their chances of employment for the rest of their lives, and for what reason?

    Marijuana is much safer, and healthier to consume than alcohol. Yet do we lock people up for choosing to drink?

    Let’s end this hypocrisy now!

    The government should never attempt to legislate morality by creating victim-less “crimes” because it simply does not work and costs the taxpayers a fortune.

    Marijuana Legalization Nationwide is an inevitable reality that’s approaching much sooner than prohibitionists think and there is nothing they can do to stop it!

    Legalize Nationwide! Support Each and Every Marijuana Legalization Initiative!

  3. maxpost   February 23, 2014 at 2:05 pm

    None of the Governors or other figures quoted above offers any evidence that they have even considered the emerging distinction between “smoke” as an inhalant ingestion technique (obsolete!) and VAPORIZATION. For example, @Manuel “smoked socially”, quit 13 years ago, possibly hasn’t had an occasion to learn anything firsthand about the revolution in vaping since 2003 when a Chinese engineer designed the first “e-cigarette”– and today there are Pen Vapes with which to inhale pure cannabis vapors (minus the heat shock, carbon monoxide and 4221 combustion toxins found in a joint, spliff, blunt etc. causing harms which get blamed on cannabis). You can also vape with a cheap handmade utensil (search “long-drawtube one-hitter”).

    As @Janet said, “THE STATUS QUO IS OVER”– not only in law but in dosage regulation (25-mg single toke replaces 700-mg $igarette, 500-mg joint etc.). Fear of “drug” overdoses, sudden or chronic, vanishes from the planet along with 6,000,000 deaths a year from tobacco $igarettes.

  4. Janet Innes-Kirkwood   February 23, 2014 at 11:52 am

    The US is having a criminal justice crisis. We have 25% of all of the world’s prisoners and we have 67 million of our citizens burdened with criminal records and many millions of mainly minorities disenfranchised. The failed and very expensive war on drugs is the great driver. We will not be able to actually address this outrageous national disgrace without taking bold steps in dealing with the drivers. Marijuana is probably not much of a gateway drug to harder things such as opiates because many of those are on doctor Rx. But we can move the underground above ground and give people who chose to be intoxicated safer and legal alternatives. We can regulate and one and tax. Like it or not a great many Americans already smoke weed. That is a fact of life. Also the polling is clear the current policies are untenable. We can not have 1 in 37 under criminal justice supervision and 1 in 103 incarcerated and call ourselves land of the free because why would’t Putin poke us in the eye for our total hypocrisy? We are hypocritical and suffer under provably bad leadership on the subject of criminal justice just look at our disastrous court system. Go and look at the statistics on the disparity and hypocrisy. It is a national disgrace and every governor knows this to be true without exception. The status quo is over. Look at the state and federal budgets and see how much is squandered on a failed cultural war.

  5. Manuel Fernando Nuñez   February 23, 2014 at 11:39 am

    I think the decriminilization of marijuana is the way to go. The President, while I do not agree with him in every case, did speak wisely on this issue. Marijuana really is no worse than cigarettes and alcohol, yet many people act like it’s a “gateway drug,” when every sensible human being knows that the gateway drugs are cigarettes and alcohol. I smoked cannabis socially in college and so did most of my friends. Today I’m a responsible, hardworking father of a four year old son. Though I no longer consume cannabis (it’s been more than 13 years since the last time I used recreationally) because it’s not good for my lungs, I don’t think of it in the same terms that I think of cocaine, heroin or any other “hard drugs” which can kill via overdose. Obviously, recreational use should not be encouraged — just like recreational use of alcohol and tobacco should not be encouraged — but we already have several such users and this way it can be regulated and we take money out of the hands of criminal enterprises which could be funnelled toward far more dangerous challenges for our future as a nation.


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