As the debate over the legalization of marijuana continues, one thing is for sure: in Colorado, things are coming around.
It's been eight months since a Mother Jones article rightfully admitted that legal marijuana "hasn't kicked off a promised economic boom," but the tide seems to have turned. Citing data from the Department of Revenue, The Denver Post's marijuana website The Cannibist reported that so far in 2015 the state has brought in $73.5 million in tax revenue from the sale of legal marijuana.
That number comes from nearly $540 million of pot sold in the first seven months of 2015, already nearing the $700 million for all of 2014.
"Those numbers are showing that our pot tourism is surely increasing," Tyler Henson, president of the Colorado Cannabis Chamber of Commerce, told The Cannibist. "People want to come here and try this out and tell their friends and family that they came to Colorado and tried some of the best cannabis the world has to offer and they had a great time."
In the video above, an important element of marijuana legalization is discussed: the benefits reaped by the excise tax, a 15 percent tax on retail marijuana meant to raise money for the school systems in Colorado. During the push for legalization, $40 million was often thrown around as the expected revenue from the tax. Though that number hasn't been reached yet, State Senator Pat Steadman discussed the potential benefits from the money already coming in.
"Schools are going to have new roofs put on, they're going to replace HV/AC and boiler systems, heating and cooling, they're going to put in more energy efficiency, maybe solar panels, maybe replace windows, they may put in a new floor in the gym or repair an athletic track," Steadman said. "It's going to be spread out and its going to be lots of little projects across the state."
A 2013 Gallup poll in the United States found that 58 percent of Americans supported legalizing marijuana, the first time the drug has found favor in the American public. In 1969, when Gallup first asked the same question, only 12 percent of Americans responded that they would support legalization. It has been a long battle for marijuana advocates to dispense of the taboo reputation marijuana has, but with continued success in Colorado and states like Washington and Alaska, things might get a lot easier soon.