Was Colorado’s Marijuana Rollout A Success?

Image via Flickr/ Jeffrey Beall

Marijuana proponents nationwide have been watching with bated breath to see if the new Colorado legislation will work. And though sales of the drug for recreational use have only been legal for a week, experts are already calling it a huge success. This is great news for people in other states who hope Colorado will set a successful precedent for legal recreational weed.

Officials are keeping an eye on a few specific areas to make sure everything runs smoothly. Particularly, they’re looking at the situation from legal, safety and monetary standpoints. And while concerns like potential increased teen usage can take years to evaluate, the short-term success of the new laws is hard to deny.

Legal and Safety Issues Virtually Nonexistent

So far, Coloradans seem quite content to follow the new laws and there haven’t been any major incidents.

Mike Elliott, executive director of the Medical Marijuana Industry Group, told Yahoo News, “We’ve been in open communication with [the Denver Police Department] and working with them, and realize we have the same priorities – to keep businesses secure and keep customers safe. This sort of partnership has never happened before, where we have such common ground between the marijuana industry and the law-enforcement community.”

Since Jan. 1, Denver police have only issued four marijuana citations and haven’t had any major incidents. While there are residual questions about DUI laws and acceptable smoking areas, people in the state seem to be working it out.

With everyone on their best behavior, this also means no safety issues. People are buying weed from licensed dispensaries, meaning the product’s safety is vouched for and people are largely off the black market. DUIs and store security also haven’t been a problem.

Elliott credits the success to an open dialogue. Marijuana dispensaries have been very careful to disseminate law information as much as possible, and police have stepped up patrols at the request of the marijuana industry.

Elliott explains there’s a standard. “The whole world is watching, we’re at cutting edge of this historic movement, and we’ve got to be better than anyone thought we can be and extremely responsible,” he told Yahoo News. In other words, Colorado needs to set a good precedent so other states can follow suit.

Making Money For The State

The government can’t complain about all the extra revenue marijuana is already bringing in. Weed bought for recreational purposes is taxed upwards of 25 percent, depending on the city.

Just a week into the new legislation, sales are on track to generate an additional $67 million in tax revenue for this year, according to the Huffington Post. The first $40 million of this is bookmarked for school construction, while the rest will go toward marijuana regulation.

The Pitfalls Aren’t So Bad

Such a big change in legality is bound to cause a few hiccups, but they’re not so bad in this case.

One of the biggest early issues is that the demand is greater than the supply. Colorado currently requires marijuana businesses to grow most of their own inventory, and most dispensaries are already reporting a shortage. When dispensaries do run out, would-be legal customers could once again be turning to the black market for their stashes.

This is largely a temporary problem, however. Initial demand has been high but could fall to a more sustainable level. And supply will increase as existing dispensaries improve their inventories and new dispensaries gain licenses.

What’s Next? Longterm Effects Of The Laws

Officials will no doubt pay attention to the longterm effects of legal marijuana. Some say the legal market will encourage more teens to start smoking, so experts will be tracking usage rates among teens. There’s also worry of pot being legally purchased in Colorado and illegally transported across state lines, so officials will be on the lookout for that as well. Proponents are also waiting to see if the laws give a boost to tourism.

For now, most people agree that the new laws have been a hit. As Elliott puts it, “We have pretty successfully shown that all the doomsday scenarios, and all the predictions that have been made about this, are just not based in reality.”