Fort Collins sees employment increases since legalization of marijuana

Jonathan Matheny

In January 2013, Colorado made history with its first legal sales of recreational cannabis after residents voted to pass Amendment 64 in 2012.

The first recreational dispensary in Fort Collins opened in June. According to the Colorado Department of Revenue, Larimer County brought in $126,614 in tax revenue in July, the first full month of recreational sales.


Along with being a growing source of tax revenue for Larimer County, recreational cannabis has begun to make a mark on employment.  

“Unemployment has and continues to drop in Larimer County,” said an employee at the Larimer County Workforce Center who refused to give her name. “This decline can be attributed to recreational cannabis.”

According to data published by the Federal Reserve Bank of the United States, the unemployment rate in Larimer County has decreased consistently since its peak of 8.4 percent in early 2010. Unemployment dropped 1.3 percent in the first six months of 2014, a more significant decrease in unemployment than the 0.7 percent decrease during the same period of time last year.

Steve Ackerman, owner of Organic Alternatives agreed that cannabis legalization has provided employment opportunities in Fort Collins.

“Any new business is going to bring jobs with it,” Ackerman said.

Currently there are three stores open for recreational marijuana sales in Fort Collins, along with the 10 medical marijuana stores operating in the city.

“We’ve always been a small shop and we would prefer to stay that way,” said Erica Freeman, owner of Choice Organics, the first store to sell recreational cannabis in Fort Collins.

Choice Organics has been selling medical cannabis to residents of the city of Fort Collins since 2011, and will continue to do so along side recreational sales.

Freeman is optimistic that cannabis sales will bring more employment opportunities to Larimer County and to Fort Collins. She mentioned that cannabis has had and will continue to have a positive overall effect on the economy.

 Collegian Reporter Jonathan Matheny can be reached at or on Twitter at @jonathanmathen2.