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Colorado Gubernatorial Debate Reveals Pot Still Divisive

Marijuana Plant
Laura Palmisano

Ten months into legalization, marijuana continues to be a divisive issue at the state and local level.  

“I think any governor that looks at doing this before we see what the consequences are I would view it as reckless," Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper says during Monday's debate. 

Politico's Manu Raju, the moderator, asks Hickenlooper if it was reckless to legalize marijuana in the state.

"I think that for us to do that without having all the data, there is not enough data, and to a certain extent you could say it was reckless," he replies.   

Hickenlooper, a Democrat, faces Republican challenger Bob Beauprez in the race for the governor's seat. 

During the debate, Hickenlooper says other states should watch how marijuana legalization unfolds in Colorado. He also says he’s concerned about teens using pot.

Beauprez says he agrees with this point.  

"I think we got to regulate it as tight as the law allows," Beauprez says. "I do think law enforcement needs a whole lot more funding than I think he maybe agrees with me on, but the big piece of the puzzle will be honestly education our citizens and especially our young people about the consequences."

At least 21 municipalities in the state will have marijuana related questions on the ballot this November.

Voters in Paonia, Palisade, Gunnison, Ouray, and Federal Heights will decide if marijuana establishments should be allowed and whether there should be an additional tax on the industry.

Paonia resident Robert Kaiser says he’s going to vote no. Kaiser believes having retail marijuana in Paonia means adolescents can more easily access it.

"I think there’s enough intoxicating beverages around and the kids are getting those anyway," he says. "Why make it easy for them to get marijuana?”

Joann Kalenak is also a Paonia resident. She’s voting in favor of retail marijuana.

"I don’t see the big scare with children" Kalenak says. "I really don’t. I think we got good parents here and with good parenting skills that’s all you really need."

Mail ballots will be sent out to registered voters on Oct. 14.

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