A big change went into effect for Colorado marijuana businesses yesterday. Effective July 1, 2014, recreational marijuana business licenses are no longer restricted to those with existing medical marijuana licenses. Now, if you are a Colorado resident and meet the other requirements, you can apply for a recreational marijuana business license. Even better, you don’t have to grow in order to be licensed to sell, and vice-versa. As the Denver Post reports:
[W]hen these new businesses begin opening in October, all recreational marijuana companies will be allowed to specialize — as wholesale growers without a storefront, for instance, or as stand-alone stores that don’t grow their supply. The only requirement is that owners be Colorado residents.
Legal recreational marijuana is now at the 6 month mark. It contributed $11 million in retail sales taxes to the state’s coffers in the first four months. According to a study by the Drug Policy Alliance,
According to the state’s department of revenue, the first four months of legal marijuana sales have resulted in $10.8 million in taxes. Governor Hickenlooper estimated sales in all marijuana stores will approach $1 billion for the 2014 fiscal year. Retail store sales are estimated to account for more than $600 million of that, more than 50 percent higher than initially projected
The industry has provided an estimated 10,000 jobs. Even our Governor is pleased. He is quoted in the Drug Policy Alliance report as saying:
“While the rest of the country’s economy is slowly picking back up, we’re thriving here in Colorado.”
Two other benefits: Violent crime is down 5.2 % in Denver, which is home to most of the businesses. And, by the end of 2014, the state will have reaped savings of $12 million to $40 million in law enforcement associated expenses which would have been spent had the old laws criminalizing marijuana still been in effect.
What about the children? Another fear that hasn’t panned out. When the Marijuana Enforcement Division recently conducted undercover operations to see if retailers would sell to minors, they didn’t get a single taker.