John Hickenlooper: I wouldn't smoke pot if I was alone in a forest

Although Governor John Hickenlooper opposed Amendment 64, he signed the marijuana measure into law after Colorado voters approved it in 2012. But that doesn't mean he's reached a happy place regarding the law. Far from it: In a column by the New York Times' Maureen Dowd, Hick talks negatively about his personal experiences with pot, bemoans the jokes made about him because of A64 and implies that if he'd had aspirations for national office, Colorado's reputation as a weed mecca would have squashed them.

After Amendment 64 passed, Hickenlooper issued a statement that exhibited a sense of humor, noting that "federal law still says marijuana is an illegal drug so don't break out the Cheetos or gold fish too quickly." The remark quickly became the stuff of memes like this one:

Hickenlooper also was enough of a good sport that he posed with the aforementioned snack items alongside marijuana-industry heavyweight Ean Seeb: But in "Dealing with Pot," Dowd's second column in a week about Colorado cannabis (the first was a dopey piece about a pot-themed nudist B&B), Hickenlooper seems singularly unamused by the subject. At the mention of a Jimmy Fallon joke after he signed the amendment ("Stoners took a moment to thank Governor Hickenlooper, then they spent a few hours just saying the word 'Hickenlooper'"), he winces. "No matter how big a failure the war on drugs was, you don't want to be the butt of late-night jokes," he says.

Dowd subsequently asks Hickenlooper if his unwanted linkage to marijuana will have an impact on his ability to seek higher office, as it were. His reply: "Luckily, I don't have serious national aspirations, so that doesn't really become much of an issue."

If he changes his mind, he'll have plenty of evidence that even the smooth launch of recreational marijuana sales beginning on January 1 didn't change his mind about the evils of weed. He's said to be "bracing himself" for the first workplace or traffic accident traced to pot use, talks up a campaign he's working on to keep teenagers from indulging, and denigrates the idea that the state should be dependent on tax revenue from a product that doesn't make the lives of people better

Hick adds that he smoked pot for a time when he was in his twenties "to feel more comfortable in social settings," but he's abstained for decades since then.

Why? "It makes you slow down and clumsy," he tells Dowd. "I wouldn't do it even if I was completely by myself in the forest or whatever."

Send your story tips to the author, Michael Roberts.

More from our Politics archive circa September 2012: "John Hickenlooper opposing marijuana Amendment 64, both sides react."

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts