The Colorado lifestyle hasn’t changed much with the legalization of cannabis. We still love to ride bikes, raft rivers, and climb mountains, but now at the end of the day we reach for a joint along with our craft beer. We’ve had to break down a lot of stigmas to get here though. The entire country has been watching us, and some people wanted to see cannabis legalization become a failed experiment. Instead, Colorado proved just how beneficial it could be for the economy and education.
We’re not all hippies
When you think about cannabis, the first thing that pops into your head is your typical hippie stoner, but here in Denver the average customer is actually a 40-year-old male. Older women are also a fast-growing user-base. While there is definitely a lot of tie-dye going around, it’s not as prevalent as you would think.
Some consumers have never tried cannabis, and are curious of its effects now that it’s legal. My grandmother is one of them. She grew up during the Dust Bowl, and saw prohibition of alcohol come and go, while cannabis became the “Devil’s weed.” That stigma is gone now. We know about its medicinal properties, and have found little downsides to the plant. My 94-year-old grandmother not only recognizes this change, but she praises it, and she’s not the only one.
Our economy is doing great
We took cannabis off the street, and gave the economy a boost. The cannabis industry is booming with entrepreneurs (young and old) who saw a great opportunity to become successful with a product they believe in. Thousands of jobs opened up over night, and it wasn’t just dispensaries that needed a good staff, state offices did too. Someone had to be in charge of licensing, taxes, and changing policies.
Cannabis provided more than jobs, it brought in more tax revenue than anyone thought possible. In 2014, the state actually made too much money in taxes (due to the Tax Payer’s Bill of Rights), and had to delegate back to the public on what to do with an excess of $30 million.
We educate and don’t use scare tactics
One of the biggest fears among Colorado residents was that teen use of cannabis would rise. Instead of pushing this to the sideline, we focused on educating our kids about cannabis. We found that teen use in Colorado is actually lower than the national average. The edible industry was also a big concern for parents, and cannabis-infused products have stepped up their packaging and awareness also.
We do more than educate. The first $40 million of cannabis taxes go toward improving the school system. This aspect was written into Colorado Amendment 64 when it was first introduced in 2012, and was a big contributing factor to its legalization. Legalizing cannabis is one of the best things we’ve done for Colorado education.
There will always be a few stigmas attached to cannabis, but Colorado was the first (of many to come) that broke away and showed how successful legalization can be. We’re not only selling cannabis, we’re selling the lifestyle that has always accompanied the Rocky Mountains, with a little added high.