The complete recreational legalization of cannabis in Colorado was a surprise and a delight to many, so how has it panned out? In general, pretty damn well for Coloradans with fewer people in jail, more cash out in the economy, and more new jobs available.
The Department of Public Safety in Colorado released a report that was mostly good news, making a case for legalization all over the country. There was no uptick in drug use among teens, no uptick in cannabis related DUI cases, arrests have significantly declined, and tax revenue was raised a massive 77%, with 35 million dollars going directly to school capital construction assistance. One stat released as part of the study was that calls to poison control centers for cannabis exposure increased dramatically, which makes me want to take some of those calls: “Watch some TV, eat some pizza, you’re going to be alright.”
Cannabis is Creating Jobs All Over the Place
After the Republican presidential candidate was running on a platform of “Jobs, jobs, jobs,” you would think that most Republicans would be all for the legalization of cannabis. The legal cannabis industry has already created over 120,000 full-time jobs in the select states where it is legal, with over 20,000 of the jobs located in Colorado. To be fair, most Republicans I have talked to are in favor of cannabis legalization. Unfortunately, Attorney General Jeff Sessions is not among those with a positive attitude on the plant.
Colorado retailers have already brought in north of a billion dollars into the local economy, earning a whopping 2.4 billion dollars in 2015 alone. Colorado has steadily been breaking their own records when it comes to tourism, with over 77 million visitors to the state in 2015. I know that, when I happen to imbibe in some legal cannabis, I am much more apt to buy something I want, and not necessarily need. Is that ideal for the individual? Sometimes it is, sometimes it isn’t (I think that is why they put fidget spinners and the like next to the blunt wraps…), but it is always perfect for the business. So far, I have yet to see any downside to legal cannabis in Colorado.
A Rise in Acceptance
Not only has legal cannabis grown a large retail industry, but with Proposition 300 passing in November of last year – willing bars and restaurants are now allowed to give their customers the option to light up a joint with some booze or a meal. There are some notable limitations. As of yet, you are not allowed to smoke indoors, and you also need the approval of your neighbors. I would eventually like to see certain places be able to get permits to allow social smoking indoors, but requiring the approval of your neighbors seems like a common sense regulation.
Right now there are a few private cannabis clubs where you can smoke indoors, but they have required membership and are usually outside of the city. I would love to see some cannabis friendly arcades. As great as it is to be able to purchase cannabis legally, it can be difficult sometimes to find a place where you can legally consume it.
A Successful Experiment
Colorado is ground zero of this social experiment, and so far it seems to be going wonderfully, and the only thing I see curtailing their success is the legalization of recreational cannabis in more states. As a midwesterner I would say over 90 percent of the time I ask where someone is going on vacation, they say Colorado, usually Denver. Is cannabis the sole reason for that?
Obviously not, as Colorado is a beautiful and amazing state on its own merit, but the appeal of some legal cannabis for first timers and dedicated pot smokers is quite the bonus. With more cash in the economy, people not getting arrested for smoking a plant that makes you happy and/or sleepy, and many people working new jobs in a rapidly expanding industry, what are the downsides? Have you been to Colorado or any state where it is legal and dabbled in some legal cannabis? Let me know how it went in the comments below!