Governors: Legalized pot buzz just smoke

State leaders are taking a cautious approach to loosening their drug laws despite growing support for legalization
Associated Press
Feb 23, 2014

All the buzz at the National Governors Association meeting over legalizing pot, some say, is just smoke.

Nearly three months after Colorado began selling recreational marijuana, the nation's governors are taking a cautious approach to loosening their drug laws despite growing support for legalization.

Republican and Democratic state chief executives meeting in Washington this weekend expressed broad concern for children and public safety should recreational marijuana use spread. At the same time, Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper is warning other governors against rushing to follow his lead.

He said he's spoken to "half a dozen" governors with questions about his state's experience, including some who "felt this was a wave" headed to their states.

"When governors have asked me, and several have, I say that we don't have the facts. We don't know what the unintended consequences are going to be," Hickenlooper said. "I urge caution."

The Democrat continued: "I say, if it was me, I'd wait a couple of years."

States are watching closely as Colorado and Washington establish themselves as national pioneers after becoming the first states to approve recreational marijuana use in 2012. A group is hoping to add Alaska as the third state.

Colorado became the first to allow legal retail sales of recreational marijuana on Jan. 1 and Washington is expected to launch its marketplace soon.

Hickenlooper confirmed that early tax revenue collections on Colorado pot sales have exceeded projections but cautioned that tax revenue "is absolutely the wrong reason to even think about legalizing recreational marijuana."

Medical marijuana, meanwhile, is legal in 20 states and the District of Columbia. Florida voters will decide on a proposed constitutional amendment to allow medical marijuana in November.

President Barack Obama's administration has given states the green light to experiment with marijuana regulation.

Obama recently generated headlines when he said in an interview that he didn't think marijuana was more dangerous than alcohol "in terms of its impact on the individual consumer." He said smoking marijuana is "not something I encourage, and I've told my daughters I think it's a bad idea, a waste of time, not very healthy."

Recent polling suggests that a majority of Americans support efforts to legalize the drug. The issue cuts across party lines as liberals and libertarian-minded Republicans favor the shift.

But governors gathered in Washington this weekend had a more cautious approach.

"I just had a longstanding belief that legalizing marijuana would not be in the interest of our youth or our people," said Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, a Republican. "And I'll maintain my position in opposition to legalization as long as I'm governor."

New Hampshire Democratic Gov. Maggie Hassan says she's opposed to legalization because her state already struggles with high rates of youth substance abuse. But she called for a "comprehensive look at our criminal laws and sentencing practices."

"I don't think we should be sending young people to jail or have a criminal record for a first offense," she said.

Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley, a former Baltimore mayor whose city has dealt with drug addiction, said in a few years other states would know "whether Colorado was able to reduce harm without creating other adverse impacts unforeseen." But the Democrat noted that in Maryland, many job opportunities for young people come from federal agencies or firms with federal contracts that require employees to pass drug tests.

"I don't believe for economic and opportunity reasons that this is an issue where Maryland should serve as that laboratory of democracy," he said.

The Justice Department said last year that it would largely steer clear of state-legal marijuana businesses as long as they follow a series of strict guidelines. A department memo did not give carte blanche to would-be marijuana entrepreneurs, but the legal pot market viewed the department's position as encouraging.

Earlier this month, the Obama administration provided banks with guidance on how to do business with marijuana firms, aiming to make banks feel more comfortable working with marijuana businesses that are licensed and regulated.

Meanwhile, Washington state Gov. Jay Inslee, a Democrat, said implementation of his state's decision to create a legal pot marketplace was succeeding. He also offered some advice to his fellow governors.

"I would encourage them to follow their state's will," he said. "Our will was to de-criminalize this product. And so far it's working well."

Comments

SanduskyNow

If I did, I'd smoke it if I wanted to.. I'm tired of the laws!.. It's as if you're born into this world where you're automatically owned by the government as soon as you take your first breath.. Well nobody owns me!.. NOBODY!

Contango

Marijuana usage for recreational purposes remains against Fed law.

The Obama admin. and the DOJ are just choosing to ignore the law.

States need to proceed with caution.

sand-town-refugee

As I see more news stories regarding the legalization of pot I wonder why it was made "illegal" to begin with. At one time pot was legal to smoke, however it was illegal to possess. You had to have a stamp to smoke it but you couldn't grow it or sell it so it was a moot point to even have the stamp. Please correct me if I am wrong about this... I know I had read it somewhere, in Time magazine or one of those kinds.
I can see why some feel it is a horrible drug. Anyone that watches the movie "Reefer Madness" gets the idea that it turns you into a maniac! Not so for the majority of smokers. Most just feel a relaxing high, as do some the opposite, which I have experienced both. The fear that our youth will become drug addicted idiots is ridiculous because its no different than our alcoholic youth... and they are out there, just go to an AA meeting for teens.
Putting laws down that affect the sale, regulate the growth of the product, and then the taxes that would result could be a solution to the money spent on a war on drugs that has been one of the biggest wastes of time AND money. I'm not say just let all of that go to the wayside, spend the time on the more serious drugs like heroin, meth and the like that are much more out of control than pot and are a lot more serious to kick when addicted. I think the states that legalized it will be a model for the rest of the states that are considering it. I hope it will turn out to be a positive one.

Ralph J.

Sand-town, it was all about racism. First it was the Chinese for smoking opium but opium tinctures and injections were legal for whites. Then Blacks were using cocaine and laws made it illegal. Later marijuana was made illegal because Mexicans were using it.

http://www.drugpolicy.org/new-so...

Contango

Re: "it was all about racism."

BINGO!

As long as the "coloreds" were using - no big deal.

But when little white bread Johnny and Suzie started smoking the evil weed - YIKES!!!!

Factitious

OK you just said the opposite thing Ralph did. Did you think you were agreeing, or where you trying to point out his fallacy?

Contango

The correlation is the same with "race music."

JudgeMeNot

How Marijuana Became Illegal

http://www.ozarkia.net/bill/pot/...

Stop It

Two main people for corporate greed started the stuff against MJ:

Harry J. Anslinger and William Randolf Hearst. It's easy to see why. put those two together in a search about marijuana and see for yourself.

KURTje

Just as Gov. Taft fought the right- to-carry law, so too will MJ be made legal in some form here (I predict 10years or less)

Contango

Re: "I predict (snip)"

You couldn't predict your next bowel movement.

Stop It

I know a coupla growers that don't want it legalized in OH. They'll make less $$ and then the taxes and stuff. I told em both to get ready to open a store before it becomes law..lookee what's happening out west...

SamAdams

Stop It makes a pretty valid point: Look at the people who are AGAINST legalization! Yes, there's a contingent of conservatives in opposition. But who else doesn't want pot legalized? The big time marijuana smugglers and dealers! Why do THEY oppose it? The loss of income.

Along with putting smugglers and dealers effectively out of business, legalization also gets rid of the "fringe" crime around the smugglers and dealers. It frees up prison cells and law enforcement resources for REAL crime. It EARNS money when it's taxed just like alcohol or tobacco.

Marijuana has long been misclassified on the drug schedule, and its dangers greatly exaggerated. Its benefits have been downplayed. Unfortunately, those most viscerally opposed to marijuana legalization tend to also be the kind of people who already know what they think, and so don't wish to be confused by the facts.

Stop It

These people are not bigtime, Samantha. It's just a little added income plus they don't gotta go buy it. At first it was for themselves only. then they became proficient at it. now their product is requested. It's still small time mom n pop stuff, tho. They don't want too many heads turned in their direction.

SamAdams

I understand the people you know are small time. But it's the bigtime smugglers/dealers that will result in the greatest good should their "jobs" suddenly disappear! Your point is still valid. It's a matter of magnitude, not the specifics. :-)

Factitious

Your argument is blatantly and unabashedly ad homonym. What bad guys want or don't want has no bearing on the case. Legalization would subvert the bad guys, but putting then in jail would be a better way to do that.

Factitious

And I challenge SamA to support the claim that marijuana is misclassified, because the question has been pretty thoroughly examined. The only defensible use of marijuana would be by prescription, but the marginal benefits have been determined, over and over, to not be worth the risks.

Darwin's choice

Facts? Or a link to prove your not incorrect?

Factitious

Russell's Teapot. Sam made the assertion and it's up to Sam to support it. I don't event need to know what the classification is to know it would be silly to believe Sam over the FDA, unless Sam provides evidence to the contrary, or evidence of expertise. Do your own googling.

SamAdams

Marijuana is currently classified as a Schedule 1 drug. It's right there beside heroin, meth, and LSD. COCAINE is a Schedule 2 drug, for heaven's sake! Of course, you doubtless won't believe me insofar as classification, so why don't you get it from the DOJ itself? Here you go: http://www.justice.gov/dea/drugi...

You might also want to bother to take another look at the research into the medical applications of marijuana. I'll wait right here for you to apologize to me (and everybody else) who ought to at least know the FACTS of medical marijuana usage before deciding it's evil!

Factitious

First let's get the stupidity out of the way; you want me to apologize for... words you put in my mouth? I did not call pot "evil" but if I ever unfairly dis the stuff, I'll apologize to it, not to you. Hope you weren't waiting long.

State sanctioned peddling of "medical" marijuana is a joke - everyone knows it's largely for recreational use, which the FDA classifies as abuse. Like fine wines, the descriptions for the multitudinous varieties available obviously target connoisseurs, not patients. Why not antibiotic shops and statin shops?

Schedule I is the only category for substances with no lawful medical use, and the vast majority of pot consumed is for recreation, which to the FDA is abuse, so that classification is at worst, defensible, and as such, not "misclassified," even if one could make the case for a different category.

Synthetic pharmaceutical THC is schedule III and approved in the U.S. Some, maybe many, bonafide patients don't like it and say smoking pot works better. So you can make a reasonable case for FDA approval of baggies of pot for distribution by prescription through pharmacies. Unfortunately, the cost of getting approval is unattractive for Big Pharma, for something anyone can grow in their back yard. And the Feds are unwilling to open up the floodgates for recreational use, so it's a bit of a stalemate.

But you offered no real support for your claim of miscategorization. And you didn't even offer a case for FDA approval - I just did that for you. You just offered hystronics.

thinkagain

Thanks for sharing your doper inclinations and pothead pontifications.

Contango

See: The 1972 "Shafer Commission"

"The Commission recommended decriminalization of simple possession,"

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nat...

Bubba's Buddy

I do not think legalization will stop the black market pot trade.
It will be cheaper to buy it off the street than in the pot shops.
Pot will still be smuggled into the country and illegally grown & sold here.

Whoopball

Buddy your opinion is erroneous. Pot is cheap to grow. Risk makes it expensive. Remove the risk and add a little tax and it will still be cheaper than illegal pot. Colorado has realized over $100 million in tax revenue in just the few months it's been for sale and it is much cheaper in shops than on the street in other states.

JD's picture
JD

Are we to believe that smoking tobacco is bad and smoking weed is good?

Factitious

No. Pot smoking has many of the same health risks as tobacco. Some might be worse. Nicotine is more addictive that THC, though.

KURTje

Hey old man..what I do know is you are a bigot.

Contango

Re: "Hey (snip)"

Need some attention again kk?

Answer the question: Why do you deserve to get taxpayer money for doin' nothing?

Ralph J.

There are many myths about marijuana and thinking people would be wise to debunk these myths. Several years ago, many were opposed to carry concealed guns, thinking of the wild west and many shootings would result. It didn't happen.

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