Colorado was one of the first states to legalize marijuana and was the first to make it recreationally available for people over the age of 21.
Politicians across America, not eager to take a stance on the issue, called it an “experiment.” Well, the results of the experiment are in, and it’s looking awfully good.
In 2015, the cannabis industry created 18,000 jobs in Colorado and generated $2.5 billion in economic activity. In the first 10 months of 2016, Colorado residents and cannabis tourists purchased a staggering $1 billion worth of cannabis products.
“This milestone continues to show that the cannabis industry in Colorado is an engine of growth for the economy, a job creator, and one of the biggest industries in the state,” says Christian Sederberg, an Amendment 64 Attorney.
“People were consuming cannabis before, but now they are buying it from tax-regulated businesses that are benefiting the economy. This has replaced an underground, illegal market.”
While recreational cannabis sales have gone through the roof, medical marijuana sales have stagnated. This could be, in part, due to the fact that medical marijuana has been legal in Colorado since 2000.
“From 2015 to 2016, there has been a 53% increase in retail sales and a 9% increase in medical sales,” says Sederberg. “Medical sales are growing at a much slower rate, but recreational sales will continue to grow in the double digits.”
As per the language in Amendment 64, the ballot initiative that first legalized cannabis in Colorado back in 2012, the $40 million in tax revenue will go primarily to funding construction projects for the state’s public school system.
Any additional funds will probably be used elsewhere in the school system, like hiring more teachers and funding other learning resources.
Now, Americans in other states are wondering, “why not us too?” Last election day, Maine, Massachusetts, and Nevada voters voted in favor of full legalization of cannabis, joining Alaska, Washington, Oregon, California, and Colorado. Today, one in five Americans live in a state where cannabis is legalized.