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In only the first eight months of marijuana legalization, Colorado is seeing measurable benefits in its economy and a decrease in overall crime rates. The rapid development of the cannabis industry has resulted in an estimated 10,000 jobs directly related to the arrival of legal marijuana. The state’s coffers have also increased due to an additional 10 million dollars in taxes from retail sales. The first 40 million dollars of taxes derived from marijuana sales will go toward improving infrastructure, public schools, campaigns about drug abuse aimed at youth and improvements in public schools. Colorado’s economy has been improving at a faster rate than most of the rest of the country since legalization.

Violent crime in Denver has decreased by 5.2% and overall crime is down 10.1%, according to Uniform Crime Reporting data. The state could possibly save between 12 and 40 million dollars due to fewer arrests being made for marijuana use or possession within the time frame of one calendar year. Thousands of people will likely avoid the cultural penalties associated with acquiring a criminal record.

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It’s within the realm of possibilities that states that haven’t legalized the sale of marijuana might reconsider if Colorado’s success story continues. Additionally, Colorado has become a popular center for cannabis research of the effectiveness of it’s use for disease treatment since legalization. This is no doubt something those in the national medical community will take a hard look at when they consider the stance they will take in future legalization debates in their home states.

Though still in the early stages, legalization of marijuana in Colorado has proven to be a positive for individuals on a medical basis and the economy as a whole. This would seem to indicate the criminalization of marijuana has been a fruitless endeavor that’s done much more harm than the good it was intended to accomplish. If other states decide to keep marijuana illegal, they will likely miss out on a relatively simple way to improve the way of life within their borders.

Legal marijuana in Colorado is also shedding light on whether cannabis is a gateway to harder drug use. There will surely always be those who abuse alcohol and harder drugs of all kinds, but there’s mounting evidence that the majority of marijuana users consume for medical reasons and  recreational enjoyment, with generally no urge to move on to heavier drug use of any magnitude.

photo credit: Snap Man

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