History is in the making. The so-called “social experiment” that defined Colorado in 2014 as the first state to allow for adult recreational use is smoking hot. It’s now 12 months later. What have we learned? A lot. Naysayers and prohibitionists are disappointed: the sky didn’t fall and nobody died. Many heads are riding high, turning Linda Blair style in disbelief. These heads are not high on weed alone, either.
The Drug Policy Alliance and other reports show the Rocky Mountain state getting high on jobs, economic growth, tax revenues, GDP and more. For starters, CO has seen a 3% drop in traffic fatalities.
Rock Mountain High — 16,000 licensed MJ workers
Colorado has the fastest growing economy in the union, ranked at number 1 in the union among all 50 states according to an August report by Business Insider. Findings compared states by GDP, jobs, population changes, annual wages, housing prices and auto sales.
- Colorado saw2%growth in its working age population from 2012 to 2013.
- The state also had8%growth in non-farm payroll jobs
- Colorado added 66,300 jobs from all sectors between June 2013 and June 2014
- Colorado’s GDP grew8%year over year
The long arm of the law – give it a joint!
In its report, “Marijuana Legalization in Colorado After One Year of Retail Sales and Two Years of Decriminalization,” the Drug Policy Alliance, whose mission is to promote policies that are grounded in science, compassion, health and human rights, reported how in the last four years Colorado has seen the following trends:
- 84% drop in arrests for MJ possession since 2010
- 90% drop in arrests for MJ cultivation and distribution since 2010
Based on their data, during this same period the state saved $2.26 million in court penalties, police fines and lawyer fees.
In Massachusetts, more than 11,000 people are arrested yearly on drug charges, costing the state at least $3.3 million in adjudication costs.
Tax Revenues for Strapped Schools
In 2014, Colorado pulled in $76 million in combined rec and medical sales.
As of the last day in December, about 16,000 people were “licensed” to work in the CO marijuana industry. How many more are unlicensed? In fact, the United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW) is actively soliciting members from the MJ and hemp fields to join its ranks. In CO, the average pay for dispensary workers is $17 per hour. University of Denver economist Jack Strauss says that two dispensaries he studied produce 10 times the tax revenue of either a restaurant or retail store.
The full Drug Policy Alliance report can be accessed by visiting: http://www.drugpolicy.org/sites/default/files/Colorado_Marijuana_Legalization_One_Year_Status_Report.pdf
Hector Cross is a blogger for 420PR Group, a member of the Cannabis Society of Mass and a student at the Northeastern Institute of Cannabis.