Former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) was the one presidential candidate to carry up marijuana throughout Thursday’s Democratic debate—and reform advocates weren’t glad about it.

In his closing assertion, Hickenlooper mentioned that he’s a “small enterprise proprietor who introduced that very same scrappy spirit to massive Colorado, some of the progressive states in America” after which rattled off a listing of accomplishments he appeared to assert at the least partial credit score for.

That listing included cannabis legalization.

“We had been the primary state to legalize marijuana and we remodeled our justice system within the course of,” he mentioned.

“You don’t want massive authorities to do massive issues,” he added. “I do know that as a result of I’m the one particular person up right here who’s truly performed the large, progressive issues everybody else is speaking about.”

However as advocates shortly identified, the candidate appeared to be providing a revisionist historical past of his position within the state’s historic marijuana reform transfer. In any case, he actively opposed Colorado’s 2012 legalization poll measure, which voters went on to authorised by way of referendum regardless of the governor’s objections.

Although his administration carried out the authorized cannabis system successfully by most accounts, Hickenlooper acknowledged two years after the vote that he “opposed it from the very starting” and that “it was reckless.”

“Hickenlooper deserves zero credit score for legalization in Colorado and his makes an attempt to assert in any other case are politically craven and quantity to outright lies,” Erik Altieri, govt director of NORML, advised Marijuana Second. “The one ones who deserve credit score are the residents of Colorado who took the daring and wise step in the direction of legalization, regardless of the utter lack of management from their governor.”

Marijuana Second reached out to Hickenlooper’s marketing campaign for remark, however a consultant didn’t reply by the point of publication.

Hours earlier than the talk, the governor addressed his earlier opposition to legalization throughout a Reddit AMA session.

Pressed on his file, Hickenlooper mentioned “[n]o state had ever legalized marijuana earlier than and I had issues about how that will truly work in follow.”

“However when Coloradans made their choice clear, my crew and I got here collectively and created the primary regulatory framework for authorized marijuana,” he mentioned. “It was a mammoth effort however the finish consequence was significantly better than the outdated system. We’re not arresting tens of hundreds of individuals—disproportionately individuals of coloration—over a joint.”

Customers didn’t let him off simply.

“So… you had been in favor of disproportionately arresting individuals of coloration over a joint, till the residents of Colorado requested you to cease?” one particular person, whose remark has virtually 10 instances as many upvotes as Hickenlooper’s, wrote.

Elsewhere within the thread, Hickenlooper mentioned that he now favors descheduling marijuana on the federal stage, permitting the Meals and Drug Administration to check cannabis, offering banking entry to marijuana companies and expunging the data of people with prior “low-level, non-violent” cannabis convictions.

However whereas he acknowledged his previous opposition on Reddit, that very same nuance didn’t make it into his remaining assertion on the Democratic debate, irritating reform advocates.

“It’s a little bit unusual that Hickenlooper is seemingly taking credit score for legalization in Colorado, and it’s upsetting that he tried to make use of it as a strategy to distinguish himself from the remainder of the sector,” Mason Tvert, who co-directed the Colorado legalization initiative, advised Marijuana Second. “As a mayor after which as governor, he repeatedly opposed efforts to roll again marijuana prohibition, together with the state’s historic legalization initiative in 2012.”

“Whereas he deserves credit score for implementing that regulation and eventually coming round on the problem, he has no enterprise holding it over the heads of the opposite candidates who assist legalization—particularly since a number of of them by no means fought it like he did,” he mentioned. “If Hickenlooper needs to make use of marijuana coverage as a marketing campaign problem, he ought to keep away from misrepresenting what he did prior to now and concentrate on what he would do sooner or later.”

This appears to be one thing of a theme amongst governors of authorized cannabis states. Like Hickenlooper, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D), who can also be searching for the Democratic presidential nomination, has additionally appeared to assert credit score for his state’s legalization vote—regardless of having opposed it earlier than the voters of his state enacted it over his objections. He mentioned in April that “we’ve legalized marijuana” in Washington, seemingly falsely counting himself among the many voters who introduced the change about.

Democratic Presidential Candidates Speak Drug Warfare In First 2020 Debate

Photograph courtesy of YouTube/NBC Information.

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