It’s been over a year since Colorado legalized the retail sale of marijuana and, in case you missed it, the world didn’t end.
In fact, here’s a list of other things that were predicted in the most dire way, and didn’t happen in Colorado over the past year:
- There was no major jump in marijuana use among teens in the state (and may have dropped)
- Drug-related crime levels held steady or dropped
- Highway fatalities are at a record low
True, these are still somewhat early days, but wouldn’t you think (as many did) that people would let loose after so much prohibition? It seems that perhaps coming up with actual licensing laws for taxation and regulation means that doesn’t happen. Shocking.
Even the state Governor, John Hickenlooper, who notoriously said that the voters were "reckless" to legalize marijuana, had to change his tune. He admitted during his State of the State speech in January that the regulatory system was working. Not surprising—the lack of regulation with medical marijuana has been a big part of the problem so far.
And it’s not just the absence of negatives that’s making news; success also comes in a financial outcome too, with retail and medical marijuana generating more than $60 million in tax and licensing revenue for Colorado in 2014. Most of that money is going toward school construction and back into the marijuana regulatory system, keeping it on track.
There’s two things to remember when opponents bring up the point that legalizing marijuana was supposed to rake in a whopping $100 million for the state. The first is that it’s a slippery slope when tying retail sales to marijuana use. The point of the exercise was never to encourage people to smoke/ingest marijuana, just legalize it. And that brings us to point number two: It was costing Colorado an estimated $145 million each year to enforce the former marijuana laws. It’s fairly safe to assume that with legalizing marijuana, the related arrests have reduced, along with that $145 million bill. Add the revenue, and it seems that Colorado is on to a winning ticket.
Let’s not forget that there’s another side effect with decriminalizing marijuana—a justice system that becomes less racially biased and decreasing the costs of incarceration, in both societal and economical arenas.
We’ll keep our eyes and ears peeled for how the other states who have legalized marijuana fair, but in the meantime, we feel that Colorado is setting a great example.