While many states have legalized marijuana as of 2018, well at least medical marijuana use in most cases, Colorado was the first of its kind. The legalization of marijuana use in the state of Colorado is considered one of America’s greatest experiment to date. Though no one knew exactly what was to come from marijuana legalization, it is clear that the state has seen numerous benefits. In 2014 Colorado became the first state where marijuana, often referred to as “pot”, was made recreational. Voting numbers for the so called “Great Experiment” were unprecedented, and natives of the state have seen vast changes since its implementation. The so called “experiment” has been very beneficial for Colorado.
As of 2018, just four years after the legalization of cannabis, Colorado continues to be characterized by record low unemployment rates. As of March of 2018, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Colorado has an unemployment rate of just 3%, while the national average is at 3.9%. In 2017, only three years after it’s legalization, Colorado reached a record-low unemployment rate at 2.6% in May. Multiple factors contribute to Colorado’s low level of unemployment, including the state’s business-friendly policies.
According to Colorado’s governor, John Hickenlooper, Colorado’s very low business tax rate is one of the lowest in the country at 4.6%. Carey Wedler from the Word On Tree, another blog based on the business of cannabis, noted that Colorado’s approach to business taxes has helped create over 60,000 jobs in the clean energy sector, however it is undeniable that the cannabis industry has played a vital role in the states development. Wedler states that in 2016 alone,
“Cannabis generated $1.3 billion in profit, which yielded nearly $200 million in tax revenue that the state is using for various programs, including education, substance abuse and cannabis awareness programs for youth, and even the Attorney General’s office.” – Carey Wedler, Word on Tree, 2017
With over a billion dollars worth of business in one industry, it is inevitable that jobs would follow. In 2015 alone, just a year after the implementation of recreational cannabis, the industry created 18,000 full time jobs. The Washington Post reported that,
“These indirect impacts of marijuana legalization came from increased demand on local goods and services: growers rent warehouse space and purchase sophisticating lighting and irrigation equipment, for instance. Marijuana retailers similarly rely on other companies, like contractors, lawyers and book-keeping services, to conduct their own businesses.”
The trend has not slowed down, as the industry continues to increase on jobs and revenue. In 2016, CBS posted a report that according to the Marijuana Business Daily, Colorado has more than 27,000 occupational licenses, which was up from the nearly 16,000 licenses that were held at the end of 2014. In order to compare the impact of the economy that the legalization of cannabis has versus clean energy, we can look at the number of jobs that were created. In the article on Word of Tree posted by Carey Wedler, clean energy jobs outnumber the amount of cannabis jobs by more than 35,000, the actual speed of job creation is faster with marijuana. According to the Denver Business Journal, the clean energy sector created 1,583 new jobs in 2014. In opposition, the Marijuana Business Daily reported that,
“…. In May of 2014 that less than six months after legalization, the cannabis industry had already generated between 1,000 and 2,000 new jobs — roughly the same number of jobs as clean energy created in the course of the whole year.”
These numbers really speak for themselves and have major implications for the rest of the country. Born and raised in Los Angeles, I have already seen some of these implications manifest themselves first-hand. Business Insider noted that the state of California, which legalized marijuana in November of 2016, could see major economic benefits. In the state capital region alone, there can be an increase of 20,000 potential jobs if it becomes a hub for the industry. Even though it has proven to be an economic bonus for Colorado and states that have followed suit, many remain reluctant to admit it’s impact. Even Governor Hickenlooper of Colorado initially opposed legalization, yet changed his mind once he saw positive results. He believes it is too soon to know what the downsides are of legalized marijuana, but he now remains optimistic. He even notes that the state has not seen a big spike in teenage consumption, or any consumption; it is now just through a regulated process.