The Colorado Marijuana Industry: Growing Like a Weed

By August 31, 2014 Recent News, Research

Focus on the Family August 2014
As more states look at loosening laws on the sale and use of marijuana, Colorado is offering a disturbing preview of what may be in store for them.

Colorado OK’d the use of medical marijuana in 2000, as 23 others have over the last several years. But in 2013, it, along with Washington state, took the unprecedented step of legalizing the recreational use of marijuana—and catastrophic calls have been on the rise ever since.

There has been a sharp increase in pot-related calls to poison control; seizures have quadrupled; two deaths so far are attributed to marijuana overdoses; neighboring states are experiencing a surge in pot use; and advertising through every available medium blankets the Centennial State, desensitizing people to the risks.

Perhaps most troubling, the drug is infiltrating Colorado schools, which now have lists of young people waiting to get help. Teens who use pot face nearly twice the risk of addiction as adult users, and juvenile usage increases the brain damage associated with the drug.

On July 9, Colorado published its first market study of the new marijuana industry. According to the results, gleaned from the first three months of sales data from this year, the market demand statewide is 130 metric tons per year, and the average market rate is $220 per ounce. That’s a third higher than even the state Department of Revenue projected. About 44 percent of the recreational marijuana—which is taxed far more heavily than medical marijuana—is used by out-of-state visitors; in the mountain regions, that number can be as high as 90 percent. Occasional users (less than once a month) account for only 0.3 percent of the total marijuana market; the rest is made up of “heavy daily users.”

The study is the first of its kind, because Colorado has created the first functioning, regulated and taxed pot-production and distribution system in the world—leapfrogging even Europe’s most liberal cities.

The question that remains is how many will follow Colorado into the void.

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