Nov 1, 2022
Sunday Marks 10th Anniversary of Colorado’s Historic Vote to Legalize Marijuana and Establish the World’s First Regulated, Adult-use Cannabis Market
Comments below from Colorado legalization campaign leaders and Gov. Jared Polis — as well as U.S. Sen. John Hickenlooper and Denver Mayor Michael Hancock, who opposed the 2012 initiative but now support the law and acknowledge their concerns did not materialize
Links below to videos and photos of the officials speaking at an event to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Amendment 64
DENVER — This Sunday marks the 10th anniversary of Colorado’s historic vote to legalize marijuana and establish the world’s first regulated, adult-use cannabis market. Amendment 64 was approved November 6, 2012, and took effect the following month. See “About Amendment 64” below for more information.
Gov. Jared Polis, U.S. Sen. John Hickenlooper (who was governor in 2012), Denver Mayor Michael Hancock, and other current and former state officials joined Amendment 64 leaders this month at the History Colorado Center to commemorate the milestone. The event was hosted by Vicente Sederberg LLP and VS Strategies, whose leaders played key roles in drafting, campaigning for, and implementing Amendment 64.
Hickenlooper and Hancock were previously critics of legalization and opposed Amendment 64 in 2012. They acknowledged their concerns never materialized, and they expressed support for legal cannabis in Colorado, extolling the state’s responsible regulatory system and its role as a national and global leader in cannabis policy.
The event also included a panel discussion featuring head Colorado cannabis regulator Dominique Mendiola, Sen. Kevin Van Winkle (R-Highlands Ranch), former state Rep. Jonathan Singer (D-Longmont), and cannabis business owner Wanda James. (Video - Full Panel)
Statements from the officials’ remarks at the event are included below, along with links to videos of their full remarks.
Statement from Colorado Gov. Jared Polis (Video - Full Remarks):
“It’s a milestone for Colorado, the country, the world. Colorado’s positive experience showing that not only did people’s worst concerns never materialize, but charting a way forward in a positive way for reducing underage use, driving drug dealers out of business, making our communities safer, empowering people to have the freedom to make the choices they want to make to recreate or to treat themselves for medical conditions. Colorado did what no one had done before. With voter approvement of Amendment 64, we made history…
“The launch of the market really proved that we can end prohibition and replace it with a sensible system that regulates marijuana like alcohol and where medical patients have a safe and legal way to access cannabis. It also allowed us to step away from the unjust arcane punishments of the past… The industry of course also serves as an opportunity for small businesses to thrive, and that’s made us a model for the nation and for the world.”
Statement from U.S. Sen. John Hickenlooper, who opposed Amendment 64 as governor in 2012 (Video - Full Remarks):
“There was concern that legalization would cause teenagers to think it wasn’t such a big deal, and they’d start using it more and they’d experiment more. And one of the great things Colorado has is a health survey, Healthy Kids Colorado, where we go out — it’s now up over 40,000 participants. But I go into the U.S. Senate on a regular basis and say, ‘We can prove that since we legalized marijuana, there has been no increase in teenage experimentation. No increase in consumption. No increase in driving while high.’
“It really was a question of a societal wave — if you’re going to be in the forefront of something like that, you better be pretty darn sure. I feel pretty darn sure now that this is such a better, in terms of almost every measure, such a better societal decision than what I grew up in, and it’s going to have huge impacts…. This model is something that has opened the door for all these other states. And I’ve personally gone and talked to either the general assembly or the governors in half a dozen states, and… literally, there is no attack, no anxiety that we don’t have a pretty good answer for.”
Statement from Denver Mayor Michael Hancock, who opposed Amendment 64 in 2012 (Video - Full Remarks):
“I was opposed to it. My reasons for being opposed to it stemmed from very personal stories of watching family members struggle with addiction. … Today I stand here, 10 years later, proud to tell you that Denver was the first city in the nation, actually in the world, to implement a responsible regulatory framework for recreational marijuana. And to do it right. … I’m a convert today. I was wrong 10 years ago. You can do this right, and you can do it responsibly.”
Statement from Brian Vicente, founding partner of Vicente Sederberg LLP, who was an official proponent of Amendment 64 and co-directed the Yes on 64 campaign:
“Amendment 64 fulfilled its promise to end possession arrests, create a regulated adult-use cannabis market, generate tax revenue, and create jobs. In addition to demonstrating the benefits of legalization, it proved the sky does not fall and that many of its detractors’ concerns were unwarranted. Colorado’s experience has demonstrated that regulating marijuana is not just possible, it’s effective. Leaders in other states and even other countries are visiting Colorado and looking to it for guidance as they consider moving beyond prohibition in their jurisdictions. It is important that Colorado embrace its role as a global leader on cannabis policy by continuing to improve its system and set good examples for others to follow.”
Statement from Mason Tvert, partner at VS Strategies, who was an official proponent of Amendment 64 and co-director of the Yes on 64 campaign:
“Colorado is a leader in cannabis policy, not just because it was one of the first states to legalize, but because it legalized in a responsible and effective manner. Amendment 64 was implemented through a wide-ranging and deliberative stakeholder process, which continues to be employed as the system evolves. Marijuana is no longer a taboo subject, and a much more open public dialogue is taking place, which is a good thing. Officials are reexamining and refining laws and regulations to improve effectiveness and efficiency. Consumers know more about cannabis and its effects. Parents are having more direct and honest conversations about cannabis with their kids. Colorado is proof that regulating cannabis works.”
About Amendment 64
Colorado voters approved Amendment 64 (55-45) on November 6, 2012, and it officially took effect the following month. The citizen-initiated constitutional amendment legalized possession and home cultivation of limited amounts of marijuana for adults 21 and older. It directed the Legislature to establish a regulatory framework and taxes for adult-use marijuana, and voters approved its tax proposal in November 2013. Amendment 64 also legalized and regulated the cultivation of hemp for industrial use.
Regulated adult marijuana sales commenced January 1, 2014. Since then, more than $13.4 billion in regulated marijuana sales have taken place in licensed Colorado marijuana stores, and officials estimate the vast majority of cannabis sales in Colorado take place in the regulated market. The Colorado Department of Revenue reports more than $2.27 billion in cannabis tax and fee revenue has been collected by the state government since adult sales began, which far exceeds revenue estimates released during the Amendment 64 campaign. Local governments have also collected hundreds of millions of dollars in additional revenue from local taxes and fees.
More than $400 million in state cannabis tax revenue has been allocated to a fund that supports public school construction projects, and more than $226 million has been allocated to the state public school fund and programs aimed at early literacy, dropout prevention, bullying prevention, and hiring in-school health professionals. State tax revenue has also funded marijuana and hemp regulation, law enforcement, cannabis research, impaired driving prevention, 4-H and FFA programming, affordable housing grants and loans, and substance abuse prevention and treatment programs.
As of June 2022, there were more than 2,950 active cannabis business licenses in Colorado, including 950 active retail establishment licenses, and 41,948 active occupational licenses issued to individuals working in the cannabis industry.
About Vicente Sederberg LLP and VS Strategies
Vicente Sederberg LLP (VS) is a top-ranked national cannabis law firm. It was founded in Denver in 2010 and has offices in California, Colorado, Florida, Massachusetts, Michigan, New York, New Jersey, and Texas. VS has been at the leading edge of cannabis policy for more than a decade, helping public and private sector clients shape, implement, and navigate marijuana and hemp laws and regulations across the U.S. and around the world. It has been ranked a Nationwide Band 1 law firm by Chambers and Partners since 2019, and it received the Chambers USA Award for “Cannabis Law – Law Firm of the Year” in 2021 and 2022. For more information, visit https://vicentesederberg.com.
VS Strategies (VSS) is the policy and public affairs consulting affiliate of Vicente Sederberg LLP. It assists public and private sector clients with a wide variety of cannabis policy matters at every level of government. Since its founding in 2014, VSS has played a key role in several major cannabis policy developments in Colorado and other states, as well as building support for cannabis policy reform in Congress. For more information, visit https://vsstrategies.com/.