Long a stoner joke, the movement to legalize marijuana is now riding high. Voters have backed legal pot in four states and the District of Columbia. Arizona, California, Maine, Massachusetts, and Nevada are expected to vote on legalization in 2016.
For a glimpse at what happens after pot prohibitions are lifted, consider Colorado, which opened the door to recreational pot sales last January. (It legalized medical pot in 2000.) Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper called the move, approved by voters in 2012, “reckless.” One sheriff warned that it would bring “more crime, more kids using marijuana, and pot for sale everywhere.” Proponents, meanwhile, said a regulated market would let cops focus on serious crime while bringing in a “ton of tax revenue.” Let’s look at the numbers.
Estimated pot sales: “Market Size and Demand for Marijuana in Colorado,” the Marijuana Policy Group for the Colorado Department of Revenue
Revenues and taxes: “Market Size and Demand for Marijuana in Colorado”; Colorado Department of Revenue; Washington Post
Out-of-state visitors: “Market Size and Demand for Marijuana in Colorado”
Medical marijuana: Colorado Department of Revenue
Total demand: “Market Size and Demand for Marijuana in Colorado”
Spot checks: Colorado Department of Revenue
Crime rates: Data from Denver Department of Safety