The legalization of recreational marijuana in Colorado has sparked an avalanche of positive outcomes. The numbers prove that it is good for both the state and the people, although some believe that it is two steps forward, one step back.
The legalization of Marijuana has been widely successful proving to have both economic and social benefits as advocates have been suggesting for years. People in the business say that, although they are doing well, there are regulations and setbacks which are keeping them from reaching their full potential.
A prime example of this is Colorado, a state which legalized recreational marijuana in 2012 under Colorado Amendment 64. Support for the amendment has grown in Colorado since voters approved it by a 10 point margin in November 2012. This February, a poll found that 58% of Coloradans support keeping cannabis legal, compared to only 38% who oppose the idea.
It is not only gaining ground socially, but also economically. Colorado has brought in nearly $73.5m in the first seven months of 2015 and it is set to take in $125m, compared to just $44m last year. These numbers would exceed projections of legal sales that bring revenue back to the state. Many in the business think that this is a sort of tipping point in social acceptance. Tyler Henson, president of the Colorado Cannabis Chamber of Commerce, told The Guardian how the two go hand in hand, “I attribute it to ... more and more people ... comfortable with the legalization of marijuana. They don’t see it as something that’s bad for them.”
Along with more social acceptance, business owners have seen a change in demographic. The common customer is generally more sophisticated than you might think, looking for specific strains of cannabis and a more adult atmosphere, counter to the young stoner stereotype. Tim Cullen, CEO of Colorado Harvest Company said, “our average customer is a business professional, and the vast majority are middle-aged folks with disposable income”
One aspect of economic growth has been a spike in tourism. In 2014, 71.3 million visitors spent $18.6bn in Colorado, both record highs that coincided with the first year of marijuana legalization. That number is expected to rise by the end 2015.
This is great news for Colorado, but according to Cullen and Henson, the unfulfilled potential is even greater. “Our industry is very heavily regulated,” Henson argued. “It prohibits us from growing at a rate that we could be.” Marijuana sellers, unlike liquor companies, are forbidden by law to openly advertise on billboards and television. They also point to lack of access to credit cards and bank loans, as well as the inability to take certain federal small business deductions as regulatory hurdles which are holding them back. It is expected that as marijuana sales continue to grow and become more socially acceptable, these harsh regulations will start to soften. Whether their full potential is realized or not, business owners see nothing but positive growth for the future of their businesses and for the state.
-Bronte, Off The Grid Team
The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the authors alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of Ora Media, LLC its affiliates, or its employees.
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