HICKENWATCHER: The governor doesn’t want to become a marijuana lobbyist

“I’m not going to lobby for a marijuana company when I step down from public service,” Hickenlooper said. “I make that commitment publicly.”

A photo montage of Governer John Hickenlooper and a marijuana bud. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

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A photo montage of Governer John Hickenlooper and a marijuana bud. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite) hickenlooper; governor; marijuana; pot; weed; denver; colorado; denverite; kevinjbeaty;
A photo montage of Governer John Hickenlooper and multiple marijuana buds. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

We regret to inform you Gov. John Hickenlooper did not speak about a potential presidential run this week (at least not to Denverite). But he has ruled out one possible post-governor position: Lobbyist for the marijuana industry.

“I’m not going to lobby for a marijuana company when I step down from public service,” Hickenlooper said. “I make that commitment publicly.”

Days after the 420 smoke-a-thon and U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer’s announcement that he plans on introducing a federal bill to decriminalize cannabis nationwide, Hickenlooper is sticking with his it-was-the-will-of-the-people stance on legalizing weed. Though he tell us last week in response to Schumer’s proposal that, “decriminalizing cannabis makes sense.”

On Tuesday, Hickenlooper started a press conference at the Capitol talking about weed and rehashing some comments he made to Rolling Stones about the impact the legal weed industry has had on kids.

Hickenlooper said it’s not his role or other elected officials’ roles to be for or against legalization.

“When Colorado voters supported legalizing recreational marijuana, I, and I think it’s fair to say almost every other elected official in Colorado, opposed it,” Hickenlooper said. “But most of us agreed that, when it passed so convincingly, that we had an obligation to try and make it work if we possibly could.”

The state still has a black market for marijuana Hickenlooper said is worth between $50 million to $75 million annually. Its continual presence in Colorado isn’t something Hickenlooper said the state should accept and said money has been allocated toward public safety targeting the black market.

Hickenlooper worries about your children’s brain under THC.

Hickenlooper wants to make something really clear to all parents (and seriously, we shouldn’t even need to type this):

“Kids should not ever partake of, get THC in their system,” Hickenlooper said.

The former brewer said kids shouldn’t drink either.

“Somehow, society, we haven’t put quiet as much attention on that,” Hickenlooper said.

He mentioned surveys that back up claims that there hasn’t been an increase in use among kids. They include the Colorado’s Healthy Kids Colorado Survey, which surveyed some 20,000 kids and showed there was a slight increase that later came back down, Hickenlooper said.

This week, those claims drew some backlash and references/discovery of something called “crack weed.” It led Hickenlooper’s ex-wife Helen Thorpe to call Hickenlooper out Monday by sharing an op-ed decrying Hickenlooper’s claim (and citing federal surveys, not state ones). Hickenlooper said Thorpe later apologized, but the tweet is still up:

“I saw the tweet,” Hickenlooper said, almost laughing. “I follow my wife’s tweets. She was profusely apologetic. She did not understand the difference in the data, that that the story in USA Today, the op-ed piece on USA Today was based on faulty data.”

He continued in a more serious tone: “But let me put it this way, we’re parents just like everybody else is. So she is concerned just like every other kids and every other kid’s parents in this state are about having legalized marijuana, is that making it a higher-risk for their kids, are they going to have a more (higher) probability that they’re going to get, start picking up, smoking pot.”

The state has spent millions in marketing aimed at keeping marijuana away from children. Hickenlooper said state’s latest campaign targeted “trusted adults,” including clergy, sports coaches and teachers. The marketing’s pretty straightforward: It offers info on the possible harms of marijuana use for young people.

Hickenlooper delved into some of the technical reasons why marijuana consumption for the youth is a no-no.

“When a brain is growing rapidly, as it does during the teenage years, this high THC marijuana poses — there’s the high probability, the way the scientist explain it to me, there’s a high probability that that even just once a week, ingesting high THC marijuana can pick away or diminish just a sliver of your long term memory,” Hickenlooper said. “Do it five or ten times, probably might not have that big of deal but over time, (consumption) will continue take away long-term memory, your ability to access things you’ve experienced and learned, which how we often measure intelligence.”

While he said it’s not in his post-governor plans, Hickenlooper still managed to lobby on his ex-wife’s behalf.

After discussing Thorpe’s tweet, Hickenlooper lobbied for her new book.

“People should be retweeting her, a tweet about her book, The Newcomers, which is one amazing book,” Hickenlooper said, before teasing the press: “If you haven’t read that, you guys are not doing your due diligence as journalists.”

This has been the latest edition of HICKENWATCHER.

Esteban L. Hernandez

Author: Esteban L. Hernandez

Esteban L. Hernandez is covering politics and other general assignment topics for Denverite. A native of Aurora, he previously worked at the New Haven Register and Register Citizen in Connecticut. He's a graduate of Hinkley High School in Aurora and the University of Colorado. He can be reached at 303-502-2805, ehernandez@denverite.com or @EstebanHRZ on Twitter.