Marijuana regulators in Colorado would like to send a message to a nation of lawmakers looking to “The Great Rocky Mountain Marijuana Experiment” before passing similar legislation: legal weed is working… everything is running smoothly.
During a recent forum at the University of Denver, state marijuana regulators, professors and interested students gathered to discuss the current shape of Colorado’s newly legal marijuana market.
Department of Revenue director Barbara Brohl said that since recreational marijuana sales began six weeks ago, there have been no major public safety issues. Yet, she was sheepish to admit that marijuana was quickly becoming the state’s cash cow, stating that it was still too early to predict just how much tax revenue would be generated from the legalized marijuana trade.
However, earlier this month, a report surfaced indicating that Colorado pot shops had already produced $1.24 million in tax revenue during their first 27-days of business, putting them on the high road to earning well over $100 million in the first year -- $60 million more than what is generated from state alcohol sales.
Representative Dan Pabon said marijuana regulations thus far have accomplished exactly what state lawmakers set out to do: put a significant dent in the black market. “The best thing we could have done, and I think we’re going to continue to do is keep this out of the hands of kids, criminals and cartels,” he said, adding that the new law will take some time to adjust.
Students asked Pabon about recent reports that point towards legalized marijuana spoiling Colorado’s image. In a recent Quinnipiac poll, 51-percent of Colorado voters said legalized marijuana is bad for the state’s image. However, 58-percent said they still supported legalization.
“The first question they ask is ‘Oh, you’re from Colorado, you must either smoke weed or you must believe in smoking weed.’ That’s not the right message that we want to send to our tourism industry,” said Pabon.
Other topics highlighted the meeting, including Colorado becoming a blueprint for other states looking to legalize marijuana.
“2014 is going to be a critical year. People are going to look at Colorado, Washington this year and see how it goes,” said Alex Kreit, a law professor at Thomas Jefferson University. “If things go smoothly, I think we’re really reaching the point where California is going to pass something like this before too long, and other states are going to follow suit.”
Overall, state regulators insist the marijuana industry is doing well.
Mike Adams writes for stoners and smut enthusiasts in High Times, Playboy’s The Smoking Jacket and Hustler Magazine. You can follow him on Twitter @adamssoup and on Facebook/mikeadams73.