Former Colorado Governor to Push for National Cannabis Task Force

U.S. Sen. John Hickenlooper: 'Legalize marijuana in America.'

U.S. Sen. John Hickenlooper plans to introduce a new bill to create a federal task force to examine possible regulations for the national cannabis market that will emerge after federal legalization happens.

The one-time opponent of marijuana legalization has become one of the industry’s most high-profile converts.

At a gathering in downtown Denver on Tuesday to celebrate the 10-year anniversary of the passage of Amendment 64 in Colorado – which led to the first-ever regulated recreational marijuana market in the world – Hickenlooper recounted how Colorado succeeded in its regulatory attempt “by bringing people together” through a state-level task force on the issue.

Hickenlooper was governor of Colorado when the measure was on the ballot in 2012, and he was also one of the most high-profile political opponents of the measure. But after it passed, he worked to ensure that it was implemented responsibly and eventually won over many in the industry who had initially viewed him as a hurdle instead of an ally.

Tuesday night, Hickenlooper argued that the task force he led as governor – and the political consensus it created on cannabis rules and regulations – was a major reason the state market has done so well. Other speakers at the gathering noted Colorado has sold $13.2 billion worth of marijuana since the adult-use market launched in 2014, and that has brought $2.2 billion in tax revenue to the state.

Time for federal legalization

The senator said he believes legalization is nearing given the rescheduling review ordered by President Biden last week.

“Just like we had an Amendment 64 task force, we want to create a national task force through legislation, so that we pave the way and make sure that when that change occurs through the executive office of the president that we’re ready for it,” Hickenlooper said.

Hickenlooper added unequivocally that it’s time for federal cannabis legalization.

“We’re at a point now where I think it is time for the federal government to step up to the big boy table and make that move,” he said. “I have every confidence that, just as we did here, by bringing people together … you’ll be able to legalize marijuana, deschedule it.”

“Legalize marijuana in America,” the senator concluded to applause.

Hickenlooper also said he believes the SAFE Banking Act – which could throw open access to the banking system for cannabis companies – has a “decent shot” of passing in the lame duck congressional session after the midterm elections.

The senator told Green Market Report that he has not yet taken a position on Proposition 122, a new Colorado statewide ballot measure going before voters in November that would decriminalize certain psychedelics such as magic mushrooms, but said it “obviously has potential” in medicine.

John Schroyer

John Schroyer has been a reporter since 2006, initially with a focus on politics, and covered the 2012 Colorado campaign to legalize marijuana. He has written about the cannabis industry specifically since 2014, after being on hand for the first-ever legal cannabis sales on New Year’s Day that year in Denver. John has covered subsequent marijuana market launches in California and Illinois, has written about every aspect of the marijuana trade, and was part of the team that built the cannabis industry’s first-ever trade show, MJBizCon. He joined Green Market Report in 2022.

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