Well, it’s been five whole months since retail marijuana stores first opened in Colorado, and things are looking up. Barring a few unfortunate accidents, recreational marijuana appears to have had only positive effects on Colorado’s quality of life.
For starters, the Colorado coffers have been continually loaded with marijuana tax money since recreational stores first opened on January 1. Since the advent of marijuana’s legal market, Colorado has earned an approximate grand total of $12.6 million from the combined totals of recreational taxes, medical taxes, and marijuana licensing fees. And, as per the original wording of Amendment 64, Colorado school districts across the state will see direct benefits from that tax money. In fact, the Colorado legislature plans to spend at least $33 million of marijuana tax money on its public schools: specifically, there are plans to improve school nurse programs and increase public education about marijuana and other drugs.
Additionally, legalization has created thousands of new jobs: budtenders, growers, testing lab scientists, and security specialists — the list goes on and on, and people are scrambling to fill the positions.
Perhaps most exciting, however, is that the legalization of cannabis in Colorado reportedly coincides with a decrease in crime rates across the state. Clearly the age-old notion that correlation does not imply causation can be applied here, but doesn’t it seem logical that legalizing access to a plant that makes you happy, hungry, and also potentially sleepy would naturally lead to a decrease in criminal activity? Because that’s exactly how it looks: crime rates in Colorado have dropped an average of 10% across the board since January 1, stumping the marijuana skeptics that predicted pure gloom and doom from the outset of Amendment 64.
Meanwhile, officials and ganjapreneurs in Washington State have been trucking along with the launch of their own recreational marijuana market. Reports from the Washington State Liquor Control Board (WSLCB) indicate that retail stores could open as early as next month. Licenses for producers and processors in Washington were first issued in March, and the state’s first crop of legal pot is likely approaching the time to harvest. And so far, despite a handful of cities electing for local moratoriums on the recreational cannabis industry, the commencement of Washington’s great legalization experiment is edging closer and closer without any legitimate cause for alarm.
So to all of the naysayers who ranted and raved about the inherent “dangers” of legal weed: you may now remove your foot from your mouth and kindly apologize. But if you have something else to say, just know that — after witnessing what really happened these past few months in Colorado — most people probably won’t want to hear it.
Photo Credit: Matthew Kenwrick
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