(CNSNews.com) - Former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, now one of many Democrats eyeing the White House, told a CNN town hall Wednesday night that his worst fears about marijuana legalization did not materialize.
In fact, he's now urging the federal government to lift banking restrictions on the pot industry; and he wants the federal government to "regulate whether pesticides are used" in marijuana cultivation.
Hickenlooper told the town hall he originally opposed the legalization of recreational marijuana in his state:
A, no other government had ever legalized marijuana. Even Amsterdam just decriminalized it. We were worried about teenage consumption going up when the kids' brains are rapidly growing -- what it could do. We were worried about the risks of, you know, more people driving while high. And partly it's no fun to be in conflict with the federal government. But I believe that states are the laboratories of democracy, as Justice Brandeis said so famously, and that we would give it our best shot.
And I have to say at this point, most of our fears haven't come true. We haven't seen a spike in consumption. Significant increase among senior citizens, but I leave that to your own imagination. But I think -- I think the solution -- I've come more and more to believe now that the worst didn't happen, and even though our system is not perfect yet -- we still have a black market -- I think it's so much better than the old system where we sent millions of kids to prison, most of them kids of color, and not only imprisoned them, but made them felons, made...already difficult lives much, much harder.
I would not ask the federal government to legalize it for everyone. But I think where states do legalize marijuana with the voters or through their general assembly, the federal government should get out of the way and allow them to be able to get banking, which we can't legally get in Colorado, so everything's supposed to go by cash; allow them to look at systems by which you can have this experiment go on successfully.
And ultimately, my dream would be the federal government to make sure that the Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration regulate whether pesticides are used when this is being created, that we get all the legal barriers to doing medical research around marijuana so that we can get one system nationwide for what is medical marijuana. Where does it work? Where does it not work?
Let's make this a real experiment through collaboration between the federal government and the states.
His answer did not meet with an enthusiastic response.