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COLORADO: THE SKY DIDN’T FALL

The New York Times assesses the Colorado market five and a half years after REC went on sale:

Reporter Jack Healy writes, “Colorado’s first-in-the-nation experiment has reshaped health, politics, rural culture and criminal justice in surprising ways that often defy both the worst warnings of critics and blue-sky rhetoric of the marijuana industry.”

  • The rate of users is about twice as high in Colorado as in the rest of the country but youth use does not appear to have climbed.
  • While low level arrests have fallen far, racial disparities persist in those which occur.
  • Some law enforcement officials say legalization has fueled illegal businesses exporting product out of state.
  • Federal prosecutor for Colorado Jason Dunn calls the state “the epicenter of black market marijuana in the U.S.”
  • Weeks ago, federal authorities raided 240 Denver area homes, the biggest operations since legalization.
  • Violent crime in Colorado climbed 20% between 2012 and 2017 but it’s not clear how much, if any, of the spike can be attributed to legalization.
  • The state’s $1.5B annual industry looks primed to grow since industry ally Jared Polis (D) is now governor.

Westword discusses the changes, effective by the end of the year, which will make Colorado more hospitable to companies seeking investors.

  • Despite many requests, Colorado authorities have not answered my questions about whether the state has effectively enforced its existing investment rules.

Quick Hit

  1. As expected, Illinois became the 11th state to legalize REC. With the law, almost 800,000 criminal records will be elligible for expungement.
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