Colorado’s historic legalization of recreational marijuana has brought in more than $76 million in tax income, which is causing the state to shift the focus of its drug policy to viewing marijuana as merely a public health concern.
In 2014, the state of Colorado sold $386 million in recreational marijuana and $313 in medical marijuana, totaling just under $700 million in overall sales. The industry is expected to surpass $1 billion in 2016.
Taxes from marijuana sales accounted for approximately $63 million, but another $13 million came in with licensing and permitting fees for the highly-controlled retail and medical pot dispensaries.
Colorado has a number of options for what to do with all of that extra cash. The state made so much in taxes they are now facing the possibility of having to refund residents the surplus tax revenue.
One of the most noteworthy investments they have made has been an increase in funding for campaigns against youth use of the drug. Teen marijuana use has declined over the last decade, and it has taken a steep drop in the last few years.
Programs aimed at informing the public about the health concerns associated with marijuana use and at the prevention of youth use fall into the category of public health, as opposed to law enforcement.
Whether or not marijuana is legalized, the public health concerns for marijuana still persist. Alcohol and tobacco are the most notable examples of legal drugs that can still cause major problems in a person’s life. As is the case with alcohol and tobacco, Colorado must now find ways to help its residents make smart choices about marijuana use.
With all the news coming out about marijuana use in Colorado, it’s easy to forget that marijuana can be dangerous, especially in the hands of young people. You can tell when marijuana has become a problem in your life if it has:
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