Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper talks at a news conference during the National Governor's Association Winter Meeting in Washington, Saturday, Feb. 22, 2014. (Cliff Owen, The Associated Press)

Gov. Hickenlooper urges caution for fellow governors when it comes to legalization

WASHINGTON — All the buzz at the National Governors Association meeting over legalizing pot, some say, is just smoke.

Nearly two months after Colorado began selling recreational marijuana, the nation’s governors are taking a cautious approach to loosening their drug laws.

Republican and Democratic governors meeting in Washington this past weekend expressed broad concern for children and public safety should recreational marijuana use spread.

Map: State-by-state marijuana laws

At the same time, Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper warned other governors against rushing to follow his lead.

He said he has spoken to “half a dozen” governors with questions about his state’s experience, including some who “felt this was a wave” headed to their states.

“When governors have asked me, and several have, I say that we don’t have the facts. We don’t know what the unintended consequences are going to be,” Hickenlooper said. “I urge caution.”

The Democrat continued, “I say, if it was me, I’d wait a couple of years.”

Hickenlooper: $1 billion in pot sales expected next fiscal year

States are watching closely as Colorado and Washington establish themselves as national pioneers after becoming the first states to approve recreational marijuana use.

“I just had a long-standing belief that legalizing marijuana would not be in the interest of our youth or our people,” said Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, a Republican.

New Hampshire Democratic Gov. Maggie Hassan says she opposes legalization because her state already struggles with high rates of youth substance abuse.

Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley said in a few years other states would know “whether Colorado was able to reduce harm without creating other adverse impacts unforeseen.”

Colorado marijuana guide: 64 of your questions, answered

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