GanjAmerica: The Economic Advantages of Legalizing Marijuana

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Recreational marijuana has been legal in the state of Colorado for slightly more than two years. As the first state to legalize recreational use of marijuana, the rest of the country has been watching and waiting to see what changes occur as a result of this relatively new legislation. Even though it’s only two years old, the fledgling Colorado marijuana industry has resulted in several changes in Colorado, most noticeably in tourism.

Cannabis tourism has brought many people to Colorado, and they’re presence hasn’t just impacted the recreational marijuana industry. Restaurants, hotels and motels, retail stores, art galleries, and other businesses have all benefited by the increase in tourism activity. Many businesses and organization host marijuana-friendly events. The Colorado Symphony, for instance, offers several adult-only concerts where the use of marijuana is allowed. It’s possible to attend marijuana food and wine pairing events in downtown Denver. The real estate industry has also benefited. Some people have even decided to purchase property in Colorado because of the decision to legalize recreational marijuana. The industry has also provided entrepreneurial opportunities as well as new jobs.

The state of Colorado has collected millions of dollars in taxes since the advent of legalized recreational marijuana. Many of these tax dollars have gone to fund education. When Colorado voters elected to legalization recreational use of cannabis, a provision was included in the bill that required 15-percent of all resulting tax revenues to be used for construction of new schools. Colorado’s infrastructure is also benefiting greatly from tax monies gleaned from marijuana sales.

Colorado has also experienced a drop in crime rates since it legalized recreational marijuana. Naturally, arrests for marijuana use and possession have plummeted, but violent crime rates are down as well. Law enforcement officers are free to devote their efforts to serious issues.

Several other states, including Alaska, Oregon, and Washington have since followed Colorado’s lead and legalized recreational marijuana. The industry is still too young in Alaska for any realistic data on whether or not it has helped the economy, but Washington and Oregon appear to be benefiting from legalized sales. Other states will more than likely follow suit in the future, especially if the economic gains enjoyed by states that have legalized it continue to grow.