A Year After Legalizing Weed, Colorado Hasn’t Gone to Pot

Legalization hasn’t been the disaster opponents feared, but it also hasn’t kicked off a promised economic boom.

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Long a stoner joke, the movement to legalize marijuana is now riding high. Voters have backed legal pot in four states and the District of Columbia. Arizona, California, Maine, Massachusetts, and Nevada are expected to vote on legalization in 2016.

For a glimpse at what happens after pot prohibitions are lifted, consider Colorado, which opened the door to recreational pot sales last January. (It legalized medical pot in 2000.) Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper called the move, approved by voters in 2012, “reckless.” One sheriff warned that it would bring “more crime, more kids using marijuana, and pot for sale everywhere.” Proponents, meanwhile, said a regulated market would let cops focus on serious crime while bringing in a “ton of tax revenue.” Let’s look at the numbers.

pot stats

Sources

Estimated pot sales: “Market Size and Demand for Marijuana in Colorado,” the Marijuana Policy Group for the Colorado Department of Revenue

Revenues and taxes: “Market Size and Demand for Marijuana in Colorado”; Colorado Department of Revenue; Washington Post

Out-of-state visitors: “Market Size and Demand for Marijuana in Colorado”

Market predictions: Denver Post; State of Colorado (1, 2)

Medical marijuana: Colorado Department of Revenue

Total demand: “Market Size and Demand for Marijuana in Colorado”

Pot real estate: Denver Post; Ladybud

Pot users: “Market Size and Demand for Marijuana in Colorado”

Spot checks: Colorado Department of Revenue

Crime rates: Data from Denver Department of Safety

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Fact:

In-depth journalism that investigates the powerful takes real money and is so damn important right now.But it doesn’t take a Mother Jones investigation to know that billionaires and corporations will never fund the type of reporting (like they do politicians) we do that exists to help bring about change. Instead, our mission-driven journalism is made possible by people power, and has been for 46 years now since our founding as a non-profit.

In “TITLE TK” Monica Bauerlein writes about the perilous moment we’re in, and why it’s so important that we raise $325,000 by the time November’s midterms are decided so we can be ready to throw everything we have at the big issues facing the nation no matter what happens. Please help MoJo’s people-powered journalism with a donation today.

$400,000 to go!

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