Recreational marijuana legalization came to Colorado in 2012 thanks to voters, with sales in the state following two years later. Four years later, people are wondering how the state is doing with legalized recreational weed, and the answer is: very well indeed. In fact, recreational marijuana sales were almost double the sales of alcoholic beverages last year in the state.
Colorado recreational marijuana sales were $1.4 billion last year, and according to the Colorado Department of Revenue, the state made almost $70 million from pot taxes and only $42 million from alcohol taxes. Dispensaries aren’t doing too shabby, either. Colorado regularly sells more than $100 million worth of cannabis products every month, and Colorado earned more than $230 million in licensing fees and tax revenue combined in 2016.
Addiction Fears Unsubstantiated
Many recreational marijuana legalization opponents worried that legalizing recreational marijuana in Colorado would result in more teens smoking weed. They believed that weed would be a gateway for teenagers to try fatal drugs and drive them to addiction. But marijuana use amongst young people has declined since recreational marijuana legalization, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
The National Survey on Drug Use and Health reported that monthly teen marijuana use between the ages of 12 to 17 dropped from 11 percent to 9 percent last year. Advocates for marijuana say that the strict regulations established due to legalization (marijuana is now regulated like alcohol and tobacco in the state) have contributed to the decrease in teens consuming marijuana. Teen rates also dropped for alcohol, heroin, and tobacco use in the state last year.
Bans on Recreational Marijuana
State marijuana laws allow cities and local communities to regulate locally, and some have decided to ban recreational marijuana. Colorado Springs is known for its conservative and religious values, and the Colorado Springs City Council voted to ban recreational marijuana in 2013. However, the city is having a change of heart after seeing the tax revenue brought in by cities like Denver, which collected more than $24 million in marijuana tax revenue last year. Denver used the money to build a recreation center, and Aurora fed the homeless with some of the $16 million in tax revenue it brought in last year.
Colorado Springs City Council President Richard Skorman said that it’s frustrating to see how much money the city could be making, and he is now partnering up with the marijuana advocacy group Citizens for Safer Neighborhoods to get a recreational marijuana legalization initiative on the November 2018 ballot. They need at least 20,000 signatures by this summer to get onto the ballot for the next election. Safer Neighborhoods believes that Colorado Springs could earn more than $20 million annually taxing marijuana sales. They say the money could be used to help staff the police force and fix the city’s infrastructure.
Recreational and medical cannabis dispensaries were doing pretty good, with Colorado making $100 million per month off Mary Jane, at least up until last week. During the week of December 17th, Twenty-six marijuana businesses were shut down in Denver and Aurora after law enforcement officers arrested 12 people at several Sweet Leaf dispensaries for violating marijuana limits. Police said that the pot shops were selling more recreational cannabis than the amount allowed by state laws, which limits customers to the one ounce daily. The order shuts down 26 businesses in total, with police concentrating on 8 dispensaries last week.
The state had avoided any interference with federal cannabis laws thus far, and the arrests last week were no exception. It was the first time any legal marijuana business has been shut down in Denver since Colorado legalized recreational marijuana in 2014, and the federal government was not part of the investigation.
The dispensaries had been monitored by the local police over a year-long period. Agencies involved in the investigation and raid were the Colorado Marijuana Enforcement Division, Denver City Attorney’s Office, Denver District Attorney’s Office, Denver Department of Excise and Licenses, Denver Department of Public Health and Environment, and Aurora Police Department, which was helping the Denver Police Department.
Fortunately, there are still plenty of dispensaries open that are operating within the state’s regulations with a variety of cannabis products, and several Colorado dispensaries cater to medical marijuana and recreational marijuana consumers alike. The Lodge Cannabis in Denver has both marijuana and hemp-based products. This amazing dispensary has two locations with an excellent variety of high-quality medical and recreational marijuana, and they have great deals on some jolly holly for this holiday season. Try an eighth of Pineapple Express or even one of their 1-gram pre-rolls! You’ll also find concentrates, topicals, and edibles at the Lodge Cannabis on High Street or Federal Boulevard.
You can find more Colorado recreational and medical marijuana dispensaries here.
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