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Carbondale, CO 81623
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Colorado Rocky Mountain High | Long Term Effects of Legalized Marijuana Sales

What does it mean for the future of economic development in the state of Colorado? Are companies going to be encouraged or apprehensive about unknown future consequences?

Will the experiment work or will it be flawed? What are the long term consequences of state legalization of a federally controlled substance? These are just a few of the questions that face state and local municipalities after approval on 11-6-2012 of amendment #64, authorizing the sale of marijuana for recreational use. What will the local effects be on individual communities such as Carbondale?

There is an undeniable divide between those approving controlled use, and a more skeptical minority that predicts many negative unintended consequences. In the short term, the state and local communities will have tourist and user traffic from areas of the country that still prohibit marijuana use. So far, this additional tourism has created few problems.

In the long term, will a large scale increase in now legal consumption result in degradation or lowering of the overall quality of the labor pool? We really don’t know. Some studies indicate a long term IQ reduction or 8-10 points in heavy users, but the details on actual usage is very limited. Is once per week relatively safe? Is once per day more of a problem? These are unknowns that may get explained with widespread legal use.

Since legal sales began there have been relatively few problems regarding driving or other interactions from smoking marijuana. What has happened is several instances of severe intoxication from edible marijuana, at least one of which resulted in death. More restrictive labeling of edible marijuana is being implemented and is expected to greatly reduce these problems in the future.

The estimates of public benefit from taxation are still in the initial reporting stage. Initial reports in 2015 indicate 68 million at the state level in the first 18 months and maybe half that at the local level. Colorado predicts an eventual 100-150 Million from marijuana taxes out of a total state budget of 26 Billion. Not an insignificant amount, but not huge.

What is clear is that the state tax of 15%, and the local tax of up to 10%, along with a regular sales tax of 7% to 10% will result in much of the legal marijuana being grown privately by home growers, bypassing the confiscatory tax. There is no way to know the exact amount, but anecdotal information indicates that the private market is very large, and possibly as much as 50% of regulated sales.

In short, a company considering Colorado, or any other state that has legalized marijuana, should not remove those states from consideration because of their progressive experiment. Colorado has already been followed by other states, and right or wrong, it appears many other states will do the same.

Regardless of legality or what the long term cognitive or physical effects may be, consumption of marijuana is widespread, and is no more likely to be eliminated from the general population than alcohol consumption was in the last century.

The major considerations for companies considering relocation to Colorado or Carbondale are an educated workforce, a year round outdoor lifestyle that contributes to a healthy and productive population, and generally affordable housing. This is a place you can enjoy and make a profit.

In conclusion, legalized marijuana has had no more effect on Colorado than the repeal of Prohibition. Come join us, we are open for business. 

Information in this article was compiled from local news sources by Bill Grant, a resident of Carbondale.