Six months after recreational marijuana got the green light in Colorado, we look at the economic, social, and health impacts of embracing pot.
Six months ago tomorrow, Colorado became the first state in the Union to legalize recreational marijuana. It’s been an eye-popping half year. First all the “Rocky Mountain high” jokes. Then the reality. Nearly $200 million in pot sales. Stores and factories churning out pot, pot candy, pot soda. Nearly 10,000 Coloradans working in the marijuana business. The Colorado Symphony Orchestra announcing “weed concerts.” Kids getting sick on their parents’ pot gummy bears. A couple of deaths. And lots of new insights. This hour On Point: What Colorado has learned about legalized pot.
— Tom Ashbrook
Dr. Richard Zane, chair of the department of emergency medicine at University of Colorado Hospital.
From Tom’s Reading List
The Cannabist: $202 million in pot sales?! (And 9 other facts from 6 months into 2014) — “Here are the absolutes, the facts, the hard numbers we know after the first six months of legal recreational cannabis sales in the modern world. Some of these numbers, including tax revenues, mean something tangible and allow us to plan for the future. Some of these numbers, like crime stats, are interesting but incomplete, given the many factors that contribute to citywide crime.”
New York Times: After 5 Months of Sales, Colorado Sees the Downside of a Legal High — “Five months after Colorado became the first state to allow recreational marijuana sales, the battle over legalization is still raging. Law enforcement officers in Colorado and neighboring states, emergency room doctors and legalization opponents increasingly are highlighting a series of recent problems as cautionary lessons for other states flirting with loosening marijuana laws.”
Slate: Yes, We Cannabis — “Voters in Alaska and possibly Oregon will decide this November whether their states will join Colorado and Washington in legalizing the commercial sale and recreational use of pot. Similar initiatives are at varying stages in more than a half-dozen other states—Nevada, Arizona, and California among them—where advocates are looking toward 2016, when they hope the presidential election will turn out enough liberals to push those efforts across the finish line. All told, more than 1 in 5 Americans live in states where marijuana use has a legitimate chance to become legal between now and when President Obama leaves office.”