In 2012, Colorado embarked into unknown territory as the first state in the country to finalize and adopt the rules for recreational marijuana sales. Even Amsterdam never fully legalized marijuana, but rather set up a regulatory system to tax it. Five years after the legal adoption here is what changed.
A Spike Increase in the Use of Marijuana – Not Really
Contrary to popular belief, the use in marijuana did not dramatically increase. In an interview with Yahoo News, Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper said, “the people who were smoking marijuana before it was legal still are,” and “the people who weren’t smoking marijuana before it was legal still aren’t.” A recent Cato Institute analysis found that state marijuana legalizations have had minimal effect on marijuana use.
In 2014, Nancy Grace, an American legal commentator and television host, predicted that Colorado and its then-newly legal marijuana sales would set the state up, “for one of the biggest crime waves you’ve ever seen!” However, this prediction was debunked with statistics demonstrating a decrease in crime rates since the state legalization of marijuana.
During the first year of the implementation of Amendment 64, Denver experienced a 2.2 percent decrease in violent crime rates and an 8.9 percent reduction in property crime offenses, according to research conducted by the Drug Policy Alliance.
A Growing State Economy
According to Colorado Department of Revenue tax data, within the first five months of 2016, Colorado marijuana sales reeled in almost half a billion at just over $486 million. In May alone, marijuana sales from pot shops and medical marijuana dispensaries totaled $98.6million.
Furthermore, a recent analysis conducted by Marijuana Policy Group, an economic consulting firm, marijuana taxes raked on approximately $121 million in revenue to the state in 2015. The firm believes this number will rise to about $150million by 2020.
The Marijuana Industry Creates New Jobs
In a study conducted by the economic consulting firm, Marijuana Policy Group, the marijuana industry created an upwards of 18,000 new full-time jobs in 2015. Among these jobs, 12,591 employees were directly involved with the marijuana business while the remaining 5,414 full-time equivalent positions were created by intermediate input purchases made by the cannabis industry.
Since the legalization of marijuana, Colorado’s unemployment rate has decreased dramatically from 8.9% in September 2010 to 3.4% in May 2016.
There are more than 2,500 marijuana business licenses in Colorado and more than 900 of them are for dispensaries. That means that there are more dispensaries in Colorado than Starbucks, McDonald’s and 7-Elevens combined.
Evidently, there are more changes to come with the budding marijuana industry.
By Samantha Romero