Colorado has been a testing ground for the legality of cannabis in the United States since it first voted to legalize recreational cannabis use in November of 2012. Despite concerns from some about how cannabis legalization would negatively affect the state, citizens of the state still overwhelmingly support the efforts. Citizen support is not the only barometer of success for cannabis legalization in Colorado, as profits generated by legal pot sales have been incredibly high. According to the Denver Post, dispensaries in Denver alone “sold more than $587 million in marijuana in 2017 even as sales in shops in other parts of the state continue to grow.”
Surprising Levels of Success
Colorado cannabis legalization faced numerous debates before it was voted on in 2012. Even with a number of detractors, Amendment 64 passed with 54.1% of the vote. in A Cannabist poll found that, “Support was stronger for legalization when voters were asked about legal pot’s impact on Colorado’s economy, where 61 percent said the impact has been positive.”
Though a popular admiration for Amendment 64 should come as no surprise, the astronomical levels of economic success that legal cannabis has brought to Colorado are mind-boggling. Denver tax revenues hit $44 million in 2017, a 20% jump from 2016, showing the continuously increasing cannabis sales rates. That increased tax revenue is being used to pay for causes such as affordable housing, education, and opioid abuse prevention. The allocation of millions of tax dollars to causes that otherwise would have struggled with small budgets is evidence enough that cannabis legalization and regulation has been a wildly successful endeavor.
Not All Sunshine and Roses
Though legalization in Colorado has been largely successful, there are some points of negativity that need addressing. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) statistics show that the number of drivers in fatal accidents who tested positive for marijuana had risen by 145 percent between 2013 and 2016. Though this statistic may be eye-opening, it is somewhat misleading as it is important to remember that THC can stay in a person’s system for more than two weeks. Some may also bring up youth access to cannabis being a concern, but statistics show that teen use has declined in Colorado since legalization.
Despite detractors and arguments to the counter, outright cannabis legalization in Colorado has been a massive benefit to the community at large. From tax revenue to dropping rates of teen cannabis consumption, the pros of legalization are easily recognizable. The success Colorado has witnessed through legalization should be a model to all states who are considering the same.
Lane is based in Southern California and is a content curator for Medical Marijuana 411. He focuses his research into finding informative stories that can help medical marijuana patients better understand their diverse medicine.