By Sophie Jane Evans, Published: January 25, 2015 at 1:05 PM
The sale of recreational marijuana was legalized state-wide following a 2012 vote.
But now, Colorado’s governor, John Hickenlooper, has claimed the landmark move was a bad idea.
Speaking on CBNC’s “Squawk Box,” the 62-year-old Democrat said: “If I could’ve waved a wand the day after the election, I would’ve reversed the election and said, ‘This was a bad idea.’ “
Gov Hickenlooper, who opposed the 55 per cent “yes” decision by voters to make marijuana legal, warned the state still does not fully know what the unintended consequences of the ruling will be.
“Can we keep it out of the hands of kids?” he said at the World Economic Forum in Switzerland. “All the top neuroscientists say this high-THC marijuana can diminish long-term memory in teenagers.”
In January 2014, Colorado became the first state to allow the sale of cannabis for recreational use to anyone aged 21 or older – via Amendment 64 – following the November 2012 vote.
It was later followed by three other states: Alaska, Oregon, and Washington.
But speaking at the Davos-based forum – also known as the Davos Annual Meeting – Gov Hickenlooper said: “You don’t want to be the first person to do something like this.”
He explained how the state does not have a federal partner in the way that it does with alcohol [the federal bureau of alcohol, tobacco, firearms and explosives] because pot is still illegal federally.
For this reason, he warned other US governors to “wait a couple of years” before legalizing marijuana so they can see how Colorado fares in upcoming months, CNBC reported.
And he said that Colorado’s legal marijuana business model is susceptible to corruption and fraud because it is based on cash transactions. “No one wants it to be a cash business,” he said.
However, he added that a credit union in the state is currently trying to achieve federal approval.
Although businesses that sell marijuana in accordance with state laws cannot be targeted by federal officials, many banks are reluctant to finance them because pot is still listed as illegal federally.
It comes as the number of children treated annually for accidental pot consumption in Colorado has reached double-digits, according to figures by a U.S. anti-marijuana group.
In a report, marijuana legalization foe Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM) also said that a drug treatment chain has seen a surge of teens treated for cannabis abuse,
And it pointed to higher-than-average use in the first states to sanction recreational cannabis – Colorado and Washington state – and an increase in burns from butane hash oil production.
“We need a pumping-of-the-brakes on the marijuana industry,” SAM’s president, Kevin Sabet, said in an interview.
“When we have hospitalizations and burns and deaths, we need to stop many of these products from being sold.”
According to legalization opponents, Washington and Colorado have been flooded with dangerous pot-infused products, many far stronger than what might have been smoked in the 1960s.
At least 14 Colorado children, aged three to seven, were sent to hospitals in the first half of 2014 for accidentally ingesting marijuana products, SAM said of state data.
This is compared with eight in 2013 and four between 2008 and 2011.
In Colorado, teen marijuana abuse treatment at about a dozen Arapahoe House Denver-area facilities increased by 66 percent between 2011 and 2014, SAM cited that group as reporting.
Earlier this month, Colorado health officials announced a $4 million Internet, television and radio public-education campaign aimed at exposing the dangers of cannabis-infused products.
Use among people aged 18 and older from 2011-2013 in Colorado and Washington has risen about 3 percentage points, from roughly 16 to 19 percent and from 15 to 18 percent, respectively, SAM said, citing federal data. The national average is about 12 percent.
The University of Colorado observed 17 cases of marijuana-related burns in 2014 and 11 cases in 2013, largely from botched butane hash oil extractions, with one case each in the three years prior.
“Trying to draw any conclusions with less than one year of data is irresponsible,” pro-cannabis Marijuana Policy Project spokesman Mason Tvert said.
He said research on pot has drawn conflicting results and has been limited by the federal ban.