When marijuana activists campaigned to legalize cannabis in Colorado back in 2012, one of their biggest opponents was Governor John Hickenlooper, who told voters, "Colorado is known for many great things. Marijuana should not be one of them."
But now he's coming around to marijuana in his own state as well as the country in general. "I'm not as negative as I was. And I'm - let's say cautiously optimistic," he told Katie Couric recently.
Hickenlooper sat down with Couric to promote his memoir, The Opposite of Woe: My Time in Beer and Politics (2016), which looks at his upbringing, early business ventures and politics. But this isn't the typical sort of self-aggrandizing that politicians use to sell their image. Hickenlooper opens up about smoking pot at 16, trying to grow marijuana in suburban Pennsylvania, and yes, watching the infamous pornographic movie 'Deep Throat' with his mother.
Couric was more interested in talking about marijuana legalization during their interview, in which she asked Hickenlooper why he was so opposed to marijuana legalization in 2012.
"I didn't want to be in conflict with federal law - still don't like that," he said, adding that he was also concerned about a spike in underage use.
"But we haven't seen the big spike [in underage use] that I was worried about seeing," he said. "I used to say that, after the  election, if I'd had this magic wand, I would've reversed the vote. Now, I'm not sure I'd reverse the vote because I think we've made real progress and there might be a way to have a better system come out of this."
"But I'd hold onto the wand," he added. "I'd keep it in a drawer and I'd wait a couple more years to see [if we] can cut down on the problem with edibles. And can we make sure that we don't have as many people going into hospitals. Some of that might be the turbulence of changing a system."
And he recommends that governors of other states take a slow and cautious approach to legalization. "I keep telling governors you should hold off a couple years just to see if there are unintended consequences and whether we can handle them."
The governor also talked about the possibility of being a running mate for former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Perhaps Vice President Hickenlooper could persuade President Clinton to be more progressive on marijuana reform.
You can watch the full interview here, or the marijuana segment below.
banner image: Flickr / National Renewable Energy Lab