Former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) was the one presidential candidate to deliver up marijuana throughout Thursday’s Democratic debate—and reform advocates weren’t pleased about it.
In his closing assertion, Hickenlooper stated that he’s a “small enterprise proprietor who introduced that very same scrappy spirit to massive Colorado, some of the progressive states in America” after which rattled off an inventory of accomplishments he appeared to assert no less than partial credit score for.
That checklist included cannabis legalization.
“We have been the primary state to legalize marijuana and we reworked our justice system within the course of,” he stated.
“You don’t want massive authorities to do massive issues,” he added. “I do know that as a result of I’m the one individual up right here who’s truly performed the massive, progressive issues everybody else is speaking about.”
However as advocates shortly identified, the candidate appeared to be providing a revisionist historical past of his function within the state’s historic marijuana reform transfer. In spite of everything, he actively opposed Colorado’s 2012 legalization poll measure, which voters went on to permitted by way of referendum regardless of the governor’s objections.
Although his administration applied the authorized cannabis system successfully by most accounts, Hickenlooper acknowledged two years after the vote that he “opposed it from the very starting” and that “it was reckless.”
“Hickenlooper deserves zero credit score for legalization in Colorado and his makes an attempt to assert in any other case are politically craven and quantity to outright lies,” Erik Altieri, govt director of NORML, informed Marijuana Second. “The one ones who deserve credit score are the residents of Colorado who took the daring and smart step in direction of legalization, regardless of the utter lack of management from their governor.”
— NORML (@NORML) June 28, 2019
Marijuana Second reached out to Hickenlooper’s marketing campaign for remark, however a consultant didn’t reply by the point of publication.
Hours earlier than the controversy, the governor addressed his earlier opposition to legalization throughout a Reddit AMA session.
Pressed on his report, Hickenlooper stated “[n]o state had ever legalized marijuana earlier than and I had issues about how that will truly work in apply.”
“However when Coloradans made their desire clear, my staff and I got here collectively and created the primary regulatory framework for authorized marijuana,” he stated. “It was a mammoth effort however the finish outcome was a lot better than the outdated system. We’re not arresting tens of hundreds of individuals—disproportionately folks of colour—over a joint.”
Customers didn’t let him off simply.
“So… you have been in favor of disproportionately arresting folks of colour over a joint, till the residents of Colorado requested you to cease?” one individual, whose remark has nearly 10 occasions as many upvotes as Hickenlooper’s, wrote.
Elsewhere within the thread, Hickenlooper stated that he now favors descheduling marijuana on the federal stage, permitting the Meals and Drug Administration to check cannabis, offering banking entry to marijuana companies and expunging the information of people with prior “low-level, non-violent” cannabis convictions.
However whereas he acknowledged his previous opposition on Reddit, that very same nuance didn’t make it into his last assertion on the Democratic debate, irritating reform advocates.
Wait, Hickenlooper is flexing on being first to legalize marijuana when he has solely barely come round to supporting it final yr?
— ‘Radical’ Russ Belville (@RadicalRuss) June 28, 2019
To be truthful, he applied a regulation he did not agree with and did so in good religion.
However it positively occurred regardless of him.
— Sam Kamin (@ProfSamKamin) June 28, 2019
A reminder that John Hickenlooper was a robust opponent of the marijuana legalization he simply touted
— Stephen Wolf (@PoliticsWolf) June 28, 2019
Colorado resident right here! Hickenlooper misrepresented himself, at greatest. He opposed marijuana, had no half in instituting this system to cut back teen being pregnant, and did nothing for local weather change when he oversaw the addition of tens of hundreds of fracking wells.
— Suzie (@SuzieB303) June 28, 2019
Hickenlooper opposed legalizing marijuana however takes credit score for it in Colorado #Democraticdebate
— Brian Frederick (@bfred34) June 28, 2019
“It’s a little bit unusual that Hickenlooper is seemingly taking credit score for legalization in Colorado, and it’s upsetting that he tried to make use of it as a solution to distinguish himself from the remainder of the sector,” Mason Tvert, who co-directed the Colorado legalization initiative, informed Marijuana Second. “As a mayor after which as governor, he repeatedly opposed efforts to roll again marijuana prohibition, together with the state’s historic legalization initiative in 2012.”
“Whereas he deserves credit score for implementing that regulation and eventually coming round on the problem, he has no enterprise holding it over the heads of the opposite candidates who help legalization—particularly since a number of of them by no means fought it like he did,” he stated. “If Hickenlooper needs to make use of marijuana coverage as a marketing campaign difficulty, he ought to keep away from misrepresenting what he did up to now and deal with what he would do sooner or later.”
This appears to be one thing of a theme amongst governors of authorized cannabis states. Like Hickenlooper, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D), who can also be in search of the Democratic presidential nomination, has additionally appeared to assert credit score for his state’s legalization vote—regardless of having opposed it earlier than the voters of his state enacted it over his objections. He stated in April that “we’ve legalized marijuana” in Washington, seemingly falsely counting himself among the many voters who introduced the change about.
We all know that the drug wars have been a part of the racial disparity that too many have suffered so we’ve legalized marijuana and I’m the primary governor to supply pardons to hundreds of people that have had marijuana convictions. pic.twitter.com/u1ORz9oVxg
— Jay Inslee (@JayInslee) April 12, 2019
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Photograph courtesy of YouTube/NBC Information.