Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper gave his State of the State speech on Thursday at the Capitol, and his 45-minute address before a joint session of lawmakers covered priorities from economic development to child welfare and the state budget.
After talking about ways to boost state tourism, Hickenlooper moved on to Colorado’s legal marijuana, saying, “Our regulatory system is beginning to work.”
He focused on banking access for the marijuana industry, which has been hampered by federal hang-ups over how the businesses handle their finances.
Here’s an excerpt of the governor’s prepared remarks, via The Associated Press:
Our new marijuana industry must continue to confront both public health and public safety concerns.
At this time last year, we faced the question of whether it was possible to have a legitimate recreational marijuana industry.
To date, evidence shows that our regulatory system is beginning to work.
We have worked from scratch, with health officials, industry, law enforcement, concerned parents and regulators, and the General Assembly, to develop robust regulations that allow the industry to develop and prosper in a safe and legitimate way.
But we know challenges remain.
One of the ongoing public safety concerns is that the marijuana industry operates largely in cash, without traditional forms of banking. Cash-only businesses invite corruption, just look at the history of Prohibition.
We will continue to push the federal government to allow banking for this industry.
Hickenlooper didn’t support legalization when it happened in late 2012, but he hasn’t been as pessimistic about pot in recent months, with the state amassing $67.5 million in reported taxes, licenses and fees on recreational and medical marijuana from Jan. 1-Nov. 30, 2014.
He previously said on the campaign trail this past fall before he was re-elected that Colorado voters were “reckless” in approving Amendment 64 to legalize adult recreational marijuana use.
As Colorado closed out its first year of recreational sales, he told The Denver Post: “If I had a magic wand that I could have waved and reversed the decision of the voters … the day after the election, I would have waved my wand. Now, I’m not so sure.”