18 years after legalization for medical use, and only 4 years after fully recreational use was voted in, Colorado has seen a drastic change in atmosphere on all fronts. Being the first state to fully legalize recreational use, all eyes were on Colorado to see how things would pan out – whether crime rates would increase or decrease, if there would be a surge of lazy stoners or if the state would erupt into chaos.

What has actually happened since then, and does this mean for emerging cannabis businesses?

After some initial controversy from many, the first year of legalization brought on huge tax revenue for the state, drastically altering the trajectory of Colorado’s economy. As of July 19th, 2017, tax revenue from cannabis sales reached over half a billion dollars!

It’s safe to say that as of now, in March 2018, tax revenue is approaching three quarters of a billion dollars. That’s all money that goes to schools, roads, infrastructure and even drug rehabilitation programs.

We saw the emergence of the first ever marijuana tourism industry on the Western side of the Atlantic ocean, with people coming from all over the US and even Canada to get a glimpse into the future. With the bright success of the cannabis industry in Colorado, businesses are rushing to perfect their practices before legalization has even hit their own state!

With the industry bringing in billions of dollars of sales in such a new and emerging market, both small and big business alike have thrived. Small scale cannabis startups have become a big success for many budding entrepreneurs, while some other businesses have gone up in smoke.

How does legalization in Colorado affect the other states?

So far we’ve seen California, Alaska, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont and Washington all follow the steps Colorado has taken. Over 61% of Americans polled are in favor of recreational cannabis, with that number growing quickly with every month that passes.

As the pioneers of the industry, Colorado is seen as ‘veterans’ in a sense, even though it’s been less than a half decade since the green bill was passed. There has been a rise in institutions like the Denver Cannabis College, which specializes in teaching blooming entrepreneurs all about the business side of things – from teaching efficient cultivation methods, deep medical knowledge, and the logistical side of operations. A whole new sub-category of business was launched and thousands are keen to jump in on the action.

Never would the reality of cannabis store fronts and colleges have been a serious consideration just two decades ago. We’re seeing more and more successful independent businesses, while a new era of cannabis farming and technology has risen.

There’s a role in the market for practically everyone – for engineers to design high-end Co2 extractors, farmers to get their real green thumb working, connoisseur salespersons, and even digital content curators whipping out a new breed of enter-cational videos. Tens of thousands of people have been able to integrate their old passions with their newly found professions, and the state of Colorado has become the new heart of it all.

The cannabis industry is still growing more and more in Colorado, and though it has slowed down after the initial boom, it doesn’t seem like there’s any stopping this green machine. We’re still in the so-called early days for the industry as a whole and only time will tell how far the industry will go in the next decade or so.