Six years after Colorado enacted Amendment 64, and four years after recreational cannabis became fully legal, we’ve seen a drastic change in perspective; not just in the United States, but globally, on the legal cannabis industry. Many states watched with prying eyes to see what would occur with legalization – would society collapse with a bunch of lazy stoners or would new businesses prosper and blaze a trail for the future of America?
Since Colorado’s legalization we’ve seen California, Alaska, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont and Washington quickly adopt similar laws, with more states to follow in the near future. Being the pioneers of the industry on the American side of things, we’ve seen Colorado greatly influence the cannabis industry as a whole.
With a thriving tourism industry, impressive tax revenues, and even educational institutions popping up, there’s no doubt the legalization of cannabis in Colorado was a good thing. In 2017 alone, Colorado collected an astonishing $247 million dollars in tax revenue according to the Marijuana Tax Data. All of that goes towards public services, infrastructure, roads, education and so forth.
A quarter of a billion dollars is no laughing matter, and of course each state wants to see similar income figures. That alone has been a giant push for legislation to change across the US. Not only has tax revenue been a massive benefit, but the job market has erupted as well. In the chart below, Colorado has gone from just over 6% unemployment in 2014 to ~3% now in 2018.
Of course there are many factors that play into unemployment rates and cannabis isn’t solely responsible for it – but it’s hard to say it didn’t have a strong effect. Multiple education institutions like the Cannabis Training University in Denver have popped up since, helping to grow the industry as a whole at a pace never before seen.
People from all walks of life – engineers, botanists, classic hippies and more have found new work in a quickly growing market. It’s safe to say that if this is what has happened in Colorado, it’s likely to occur in other places too. In each of the other legal states, similar results have been achieved.
Fortune.com predicts a 7 billion dollar market for the industry in California with the potential to gather around 1 billion in tax revenue. We’ll have to wait to find out how things pan out for the state, and if the legal cannabis industry may be the exact thing needed to internally stimulate the economy as a whole.
The future of the industry as a whole looks bright, with technological advancements and economic benefits occurring at a growing pace. Globally, the impact has been strong, and even Canada is set to nationally legalize cannabis in August of 2018. Some conservative leaning states like Alabama have repelled attempts at legalization, yet even the citizens are at a majority in favor of legalization.
Colorado has affected other states so far in a very strong way, and was watched like a science experiment in the past few years. Business has bloomed, tax revenue skyrocketed and unemployment rates dropped rapidly. It’s no wonder other states have been quick to adopt similar legislation and the laggards are quickly scrambling to implement their own. Though the American economy is a convoluted puzzle, it’s safe to say cannabis legalization was an important piece of it.