DENVER - Governor John Hickenlooper is telling other heads of state to hold off on legalizing recreational marijuana. That's despite new figures putting tax revenue for the legal drug at more than $100 million in Colorado for the upcoming fiscal year, far higher than initially expected.
At the National Governors Association meeting, Hickenlooper said he's spoken to ''half a dozen'' governors with questions about his state's experience, including some who ''felt this was a wave'' headed to their states.
''When governors have asked me, and several have, I say that we don't have the facts. We don't know what the unintended consequences are going to be,'' Hickenlooper said. ''I urge caution.''
The Democrat continued: ''I say, if it was me, I'd wait a couple of years.''
Some in the marijuana industry expect it to become a billion dollar business, with people traveling from all over the country and even the world specifically for Colorado cannabis.
"We probably wouldn't have come to Colorado if it hadn't been for that," said a traveler who didn't want to give her name.
The woman and her friend, who said they're from the mid-west, went on a limousine tour with Colorado Cannabis Tours Saturday, joined by 9 others, all from out of state.
"Everybody's from all over: Texas, Florida, Missouri, New Jersey," said Michael Eymer, founder of Colorado Cannabis Tours.
Eymer said that in the seven-and-a-half weeks since Jan. 1, the small business he started is getting more attention by the week, with his website scoring about 300 views daily.
"People used to fly all the way to Amsterdam to do this," Eymer said. "People are canceling those trips, and not only is that money coming to Colorado, that money is staying in the United States."
The owner of the Medicine Man dispensary emphasized the large chunk of change he expects to hand over to government coffers.
"We plan on doing probably $10 million (in sales) this year," said Peter Williams "So you could take that 36.22 percent--that's the total tax, and multiply that out."
An industry that's the first of its kind in the world, and with many other states now looking at Colorado, what happens here will be a learning experience for everyone.
"The cartels never released quarterly reports," Eymer pointed out. "So nobody knows what the demand for marijuana in the United States actually is."
(KUSA-TV © 2014 Multimedia Holdings Corporation with The Associated Press)