Colorado—so hot right now. Known for the Denver Broncos, gold mines, and massive mountain ranges, this state is now at the forefront of marijuana reform. From boosting the economy through job creation and tourism to lowering crime, Colorado is benefitting from legal weed. Here are 9 ways how.
1. A marijuana-model for other states
Being a pioneer means that Colorado is designing the future frameworks for other states who decide to legalize cannabis recreationally. Since legalization in 2014, the state has negotiated the details of cannabis sales and taxation and has shown it to be financially successful.
2. Innovating the retail cannabis framework
Bringing the sale of cannabis into a retail shop required some due-processes including taxation, security and regulation. Dispensaries needed to work within similar liquor-based regulations which stipulated an age verification of 21. These retail models are guides for other governments and businesses to deal with a retail cannabis market.
3. Change to the policing and justice system
Before legalization, the state of Colorado spent 60 million dollars a year enforcing marijuana laws. According to the Drug Policy Alliance, the state will save between $12-$40 million dollars in a legal market. The justice system also saw relief from the archaic average of 10,000 arrests or citations for simple possession.
4. Drop in crime
According to the Drug Policy Alliance, there has been a 10.1% drop in overall crime in Colorado since legalization. There is no coincidence here!
5. Lower cannabis costs
With a legal free-market comes competition and promotions. A cannabis-saturated market brings down the average price of marijuana. Granted, the quality of cannabis can be affected by this, but overall a legal market has freed up some extra pocket change for munchies… Oreos and Sweet Chilli Heat Doritos, anyone?
6. Tourism boost
The repeal of prohibition in Colorado has generated the largest tourism boom of its history, despite any credit given to cannabis. With unique businesses such as grow-room tours and marijuana cooking classes, tourism entrepreneurship is at an all-time high. People from all over the world are coming to Colorado to experience a legal market and all its benefits.
7. Youth marijuana consumption rate down
Allowing for a legal cannabis market has made it harder for people under 21 to obtain marijuana. Using the liquor framework within the new retail cannabis market, users must present valid government-issued identification to obtain marijuana. According to data from the state’s Healthy Kids Colorado Survey, only 20 percent of students admitted to using cannabis in the last year compared to the 39 percent of students in the previous year.
8. More jobs
Before legalization, it would have been difficult to estimate the number of jobs the underground marijuana market generated. Today we know that marijuana has added 10,000 jobs to the economy with thousands more being added every year.
9. The bottom line
According to the status report by the Drug Policy Alliance, cannabis legalization has resulted in $1 billion dollars in sales per year, with projections that this number will climb in the coming years. Legalization has resulted in $40 million dollars in tax revenue which will be used to improve Colorado’s schools and fund youth public education campaigns around marijuana.
The future is the most exciting aspect of the cannabis legalization in Colorado—after years of legal sales the sky has yet to fall despite many saying it would. Along with the income generated by sales to benefit taxpayers, many states are poised to follow suit, meaning more jobs, more economic perks, and less discrimination.
Featured image Bruce Stanfield