"This is going to be one of the great social experiments of the 21st century," Gov. John Hickenlooper told reporters at the National Governors Association meeting Friday. "But going out and getting tax revenue is absolutely the wrong reason to even think about legalizing recreational marijuana."
The governor said that marijuana "doesn't make people smarter, doesn't make people healthier," and his state intends to put the first $40 million in grass tax revenue towards school construction.
"We view our top priority as creating an environment where negative impacts on children from marijuana legalization are avoided completely," Hickenlooper wrote in a recent budget proposal to the Colorado legislature. "Underage use of marijuana can have long-lasting effects on individuals and communities."
One-third of marijuana sales revenue is slated for "youth marijuana use prevention and deterrence" in the budget request.
"We don't know what the unintended consequences are going to be and we're going to regulate it every way we can," Hickenlooper says in a Washington Post report. "What I do is urge caution. Make sure you look at it very thoroughly."
Colorado became the first state to establish and launch a retail sales structure for recreational marijuana and initial tax revenues have been higher than expected. The state estimates it will see some $134 million in tax and fee revenue from $1 billion in sales. Hickenlooper opposed the legalization.
"We're going to not use this as a source of revenue to help education or expanding health care," he said. "We're going to use it in health care where it will relate to marijuana activity. I don't think governors should be the position of promoting things that are inherently not good for people."
--Written by Hal M. Bundrick for MainStreet