Hickenlooper Thinks Twice After Calling Voters ‘Reckless’ On Legal Pot
In what has come to be a regular feature of his re-election campaign, Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper is once again walking back off-the-cuff comments that have raised eyebrows among voters.
On Monday, Hickenlooper said during a gubernatorial debate with GOP challenger Bob Beauprez that “it was reckless” for voters to legalize marijuana in 2012.
By Tuesday, after the comments provoked an uproar, his office issued a statement clarifying that he meant to say “risky.”
Hickenlooper has turned the mea culpa into art form during the campaign, having had to clarify or explain numerous comments that seemed to have either come from left field or contradicted earlier positions. The Democratic incumbent is long known for thinking out loud and subsequently putting his foot in his mouth.
For example, he told a gathering of Colorado sheriffs earlier this year that controversial state gun laws were passed without having “basic facts.” And when one sheriff called a law limiting the size of ammunition magazines “worthless,” Hickenlooper said, “I wouldn’t argue.”
But when the comments — which were videotaped without Hickenlooper’s knowledge — became public, he backpedaled furiously, telling Fox 31 that he would sign the bill again.
“I didn’t say it’s unenforceable, I said it’s difficult to enforce,” he argued.
Likewise, Hickenlooper eventually conceded that he had come to oppose the death penalty, which he’d supported during his previous campaign, months after baffling supporters and critics alike by granting a death row inmate a temporary indefinite stay of execution.
Hickenlooper seemed to know he was on thin ice Monday when asked whether he thought voters were reckless in legalizing pot.
“I’m not saying it was reckless, because I’ll get quoted everywhere,” he said. “But if it was up to me, I wouldn’t have done it, right? I opposed it from the very beginning.”
“All right, what the hell — I’ll say it was reckless.”
As predicted, the quote was widely cited in the media and less than 24 hours later, he was taking it back.
“Context is everything,” Hickenlooper said in a statement to the International Business Times. “I was asked if I thought it was reckless to legalize marijuana in Colorado — perhaps risky is a better word. While I believe it was risky for Colorado to be the first state to step away from a failed federal policy given all of the unanswered legal questions and implications, the adoption of Amendment 64 by Colorado voters sent a clear message to the federal government that marijuana should be legal and regulated.”
Mason Tvert, the spokesman for the Marijuana Policy Project and one of the authors of Amendment 64, issued a statement as well, calling the vote “risky” doesn’t make sense.
“It’s nice to hear the governor doesn’t actually think we’re reckless, but it’s still a mystery why he thinks ending a failed policy like marijuana prohibition is so risky,” he said. “It’s because voters took that ‘risk’ more than 80 years ago that the governor was able to attend the Great American Beer Festival last weekend and broadcast his love of alcohol to the world via Twitter.”
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