It’s been six months since Colorado enacted its historic recreational marijuana legalization policy, and three major facts have come to light:
1. Colorado’s marijuana industry is turning out to be more profitable than projected.
Taxed recreational marijuana sales generated nearly $19 million in March alone, up from $14 million in February. Colorado has garnered more than $10 million in taxes from retail marijuana sales in the first four months. The tax money will go to public schools and infrastructure, as well as for youth educational campaigns about substance use.
According to Gov. John Hickenlooper’s latest budget proposal, he expects $1 billion in marijuana sales over the next fiscal year; which is nearly $134 million in tax revenue. Sales from recreational marijuana dispensaries are expected to hit $600 million, which is more than a 50% increase from what was originally projected.
2. Denver crime rates have suddenly fallen.
Marijuana-related arrests, which made up nearly 50% of all drug-related crimes in Colorado, have plummeted and allowed law enforcement to focus on other criminal activity. By removing marijuana penalties, Colorado has saved between $12 million and $40 million in 2012, according to the Colorado Center on Law and Policy.
According to government data, Denver city- and county-wide murder rates have dropped 52.9% since recreational marijuana was legalized in January 2014 (compared to the same period last year, Jan. 1 – April 30).
3. Colorado’s economy is thriving.
With the fall of marijuana prohibition in Colorado, the marijuana industry has developed rapidly, generating thousands of new jobs.
“Over 10,000 marijuana industry jobs have been created in Colorado alone. And hundreds, if not thousands, of more jobs will be created in each state as more and more states legalize marijuana for medical and/or recreational use,” stated Dan Kingston of 420careers.com, a marijuana industry job board.
Gov. Hickenlooper stated, “While the rest of the country’s economy is slowly picking back up, we’re thriving here in Colorado.”