John Hickenlooper Discusses Marijuana With Jeff Sessions, Chuck Todd

Governor John Hickenlooper talked pot with Chuck Todd.
Governor John Hickenlooper talked pot with Chuck Todd. MSNBC
Governor John Hickenlooper and a group of other governors met with Attorney General Jeff Sessions this week while in Washington, D.C., for the National Governors Association Winter Meeting. On their agenda? Marijuana.

"We approached Attorney General Sessions with the notion that if we're going to make changes, we should do it together and kind of collaborate on it," he told Chuck Todd on MSNBC Meet the Press Daily on April 26.

Hickenlooper wound up meeting with Sessions for an hour. The AG didn't beat around the bush, and said that he felt strongly that more people using marijuana is "unhealthy for the country," Hickenlooper recalled.

Even so, Hickenlooper told Todd that Sessions "certainly listened" as Colorado's governor reported that "we haven't seen a big spike in consumption, we haven't seen a significant increase in teenage consumption or any of these things."

According to Hickenlooper, Sessions told the governors that the Trump administration has a lot of priorities, but wouldn't confirm that a crackdown on marijuana had been ruled out. Hickenlooper said he talked with Sessions about the importance of accumulating data to make sure the government can act on accurate information.

"The big demographic we see increased usage in is seniors," he told Todd. "I'm not quite sure we've figured that out."

Hickenlooper said Sessions understands that states are still pulling together information on the expanding industry.

"He's a pretty strong supporter of states being laboratories of democracy," Hickenlooper said of Sessions. "I think he's very clear: He's anti-drugs in all forms, and he's not going to in any way encourage anyone to start a marijuana business, to think that's a great idea to do or even safe to do so. That being said, he didn't give me any reason to think that he is going to come down and suddenly try to put everyone out of business."

The interview followed an earlier Meet the Press appearance on April 23, when Todd called Hickenlooper a "bright spot" in the Democratic Party and mentioned that his name has been "whispered" as a potential contender for a 2020 presidential run.

That seven-minute interview focused primarily on Hickenlooper's experience as governor, but briefly touched on marijuana. Hickenlooper told Todd that he'd opposed recreational marijuana but supported it as an elected official after the voters added it to the Colorado constitution. "The states have a sovereignty, just like the Indian tribes have a sovereignty, just like the federal government does," he said.

Hickenlooper then quoted the most recent data that indicates that more than 60 percent of Americans now live in a state with legal marijuana.

"This has become one of the great social experiments of our time," he said.
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Kate McKee Simmons interned at the National Catholic Reporter, was a reporter for the New York Post, and spent a brief stint in Israel learning international reporting before writing for Westword.