Denver (October 26, 2017) – Five years ago this November, Colorado citizens voted to pass Amendment 64, the legislative act which legalized adult-use marijuana in the Centennial State. In recognition of this milestone, the Cannabis Business Alliance (CBA) has issued a release commenting on the significant growth experienced by the cannabis industry since Amendment 64 was passed.
“Colorado has been brilliant in spearheading the movement to make marijuana a legitimate mainstream industry,” said Kevin Gallagher, Executive Director, Cannabis Business Alliance. “Since Amendment 64 passed in 2012, our state has witnessed a wealth of positive affects; our economy is thriving, unemployment is the lowest it has been in four decades and cannabis education in our school systems has contributed to a decline in teen use. While many opponents were wary at the start, we can safely say that over the last five years Colorado has pioneered and instituted a fully regulated, compliant cannabis industry, and that we have done so with success.”
Colorado has one of the country’s fastest growing economies, due in part to the legalization of marijuana. In 2016, the state reported roughly $1.1 billion in legal sales with over $200 million collected in tax revenue. Colorado’s marijuana sales have already brought in $1 billion in revenues in just the first eight months of 2017, an increase of 21 percent over 2016 numbers. Marijuana tax money has been used to improve a wide range of community programs and services, funding everything from school construction and public health and law enforcement to substance abuse prevention and fighting homelessness. As of January 2017, more than 23,000 people in Colorado now have full-time jobs because of the legalized marijuana industry, not including contractors and ancillary businesses. Legalized marijuana has created jobs outside of the immediate industry as well. Colorado’s unemployment rate has consistently posted at around 2.3 percent, often ranking the lowest in the country, and the lowest rate in Colorado since at least 1976.
Colorado’s real estate market has also experienced a boom as a result of the 2012 legislation. According to a 2017 study by CBRE, a commercial real-estate company in Colorado, the average sales price of marijuana-occupied industrial properties in Denver rose from $98 per square foot in 2014 to $115 per square foot in 2017 – a 17.6 percent increase. A study from the Wisconsin School of Business at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, found property values in the immediate vicinity of Denver’s retail marijuana establishments showed an 8 percent increase since Amendment 64 took effect in January 2014.
“The cannabis industry has helped Colorado become an economic powerhouse,” Gallagher said. “Marijuana tax revenues are at an unprecedented high and the state has set an example for emerging markets, by managing to strike a balance with its taxation rates. If taxes are too high, the black market flourishes, too low and the state misses significant revenues for public priorities. Amendment 64 removes power and money from drug cartels and puts funds directly into state coffers.”
Contrary to recent resistance against the amendment the legalization of adult-use marijuana has seen many upsides for the state while none of the negative scenarios suggested by fear mongers and prohibitionists have materialized. In fact, since adult-use cannabis became legal, the state has seen a reduction in crime. Colorado’s property crime rate fell by 5 percent between 2012 and 2015, and since 2009, both property and violent crime rates have fallen by 3 percent and 6 percent respectively. A report from Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) released in December 2016 found that teen marijuana use in Colorado fell dramatically in the year following the amendment and federal survey data confirms that instituting a legal cannabis industry reduced youth access to cannabis, similar to alcohol regulations. Schools and organizations such as the Marijuana Education Initiative (MEI) are working in conjunction to provide students a with a balanced and informed understanding of the consequences of cannabis consumption for adolescents.
Amendment 64’s legalization of adult-use marijuana has offered benefits that extend beyond state economies and budgets, including the provision of unparalleled medicinal options for patients including veterans suffering from PTSD and women–who experience PTSD at a much higher rate than men, as well as children with debilitating conditions such as epilepsy and spastic quadriplegic cerebral palsy, among others.
In extension of its health benefits, legal marijuana has also helped address the opioid epidemic that is wreaking havoc on the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control, the opioid epidemic kills 91 Americans every day. Fortunately, new research shows the correlation between states with legalized marijuana and reduced rates of opioid related deaths. A 2017 study published by the American Public Health Association found that the legalization of cannabis in Colorado was associated with short-term reductions in opioid-related deaths; the state saw a 0.7 deaths per month reduction in opioid-related deaths after cannabis was legalized. A study published in 2014 in the journal JAMA found that states with legal medical marijuana experienced a nearly 25 percent drop in opioid related deaths, compared to states that do not have legal medical marijuana. Other studies have found that marijuana is effective at controlling chronic pain, meaning people may choose it over opioids, when they have the legal option, and that pain killer prescriptions drop after states adopt medical marijuana laws.
Since Amendment 64 passed, six more states have legalized marijuana for adult use and more than half the country now has access to medical marijuana. Public support for legalizing marijuana has reached a record high, according to a recent Gallup Poll which found two-thirds of Americans now support legalizing cannabis. Gallup first asked national adults about their views on the topic in 1969, when 12 percent supported legalization. In 2017, 64 percent of Americans support legalization.
“Colorado’s regulations have created an overwhelming shift from the black market to a fully regulated market,” Gallagher added. “The Centennial State leads by example and legislators across the country are recognizing the positive wave of change Amendment 64 has brought. We have quite literally set the regulatory framework for those that follow us. Those that choose to deviate from this model, may find it challenging to eradicate black market operations. From providing undeniable comfort to those dealing with chronic health issues, to improving both our economy and real estate market, and bringing a welcome alternative to harmful opioids, cannabis’ impact continues to exceed expectations.”
About the Cannabis Business Alliance (CBA)
The Cannabis Business Alliance (CBA) encourages sensible policies that stimulate economic development and consumer transparency for the medical and retail marijuana industry. CBA promotes best business practices through advising and communicating with its members and other industry representatives, thereby invigorating the communities we serve. CBA also supports education and safety to further protect employees and purchasers within regulated marijuana commerce. For more information, visit www.cannabisalliance.org. Follow us on Facebook.