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Marijuana Industry Raises Money For Hickenlooper Campaign

Greg Campbell
Contributor

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper opposed marijuana legalization, but the newly legal industry is raising money for his reelection.

For example, Dixie Elixirs, which makes marijuana-infused beverages and edibles, was a hosting business at a fundraising event for Hickenlooper at the Four Seasons Hotel in Denver. But Hickenlooper is among those calling for more regulation of the edible pot market.

That Tuesday fundraiser cost $250 to attend, with hosts and co-hosts paying $1,100 or $550, according to the Durango Herald.

Hickenlooper is no fan of legal marijuana and he actively campaigned against Amendment 64, the 2012 measure that legalized pot and mandated that Colorado set up a retail distribution model for its sale to adults.

He famously quipped on election night that it was too soon to break out the “Cheetos or Goldfish,” since marijuana was — and remains — illegal under federal law. And he recently announced a $2 million anti-pot campaign aimed at young people, asking them not to be a “lab rat” by smoking marijuana at a young age. The campaign involves giant rat cages placed in public spaces and will soon include television and movie theater ads with the same theme.

But some marijuana industry leaders say Hickenlooper has followed through on the new law, even though he disagreed with it.

“While he may have personal opinions about legalization, and people can theorize whether that’s due to his background in the alcohol business … he still enabled and was the leader in place at the very foundation of adult-use regulation here in the state of Colorado,” Joe Hodas, spokesman for Dixie Elixirs, told the Durango Herald. “There’s definitely credit that needs to be given there.”

Hickenlooper himself seems to be warming to the idea that legal marijuana is in Colorado to stay, telling The Washington Post recently that the regulatory system put into place after the 2012 vote has alleviated some of his concerns.

“I think [state regulators have] done a pretty good job,” he told the newspaper. “Not perfect, but all things considered, I think they’ve done a very good job.”

He added that some of Colorado’s tax revenue will be earmarked for what he called “unintended consequences,” should any arise.

“This is going to be one of the great social experiments of the 21st century, but we have to make sure that these kids aren’t guinea pigs,” he said, “so that if the kids do fall off the tracks, we have the resources necessary.”

Not everyone in the marijuana industry is so quick to forgive Hickenlooper’s lack of enthusiasm for legal pot, however. Some business owners held a counter-rally outside the hotel in support of unaffiliated gubernatorial candidate Mike Dunafon, the libertarian-minded mayor of Glendale.

“They have forgotten what he did and what he stood for just months ago,” Dunafon told the Herald of those in the industry raising money for Hickenlooper’s campaign. “Now they’re going to raise money for him? They’re hypocrites.”

Hickenlooper’s opponent, former Colorado Republican Rep. Bob Beauprez, also campaigned against legal marijuana, but a spokesman told the Herald he wouldn’t try to undo the law.

“Bob’s focus will be on enforcing the law, creating effective and robust regulations, and providing extensive education for young people,” campaign spokesman Allen Fuller said.

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