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Puffin’ with Paul: A Quick Reflection on Recreational Marijuana in Colorado

As Americans, we are coming to a point in time where our country is becoming increasingly polarized by two familiar political colors: red and blue. We have heard discourse about the upcoming election for what seems like years now, and recent events like the presidential debates, or the Alfred E. Smith Memorial Foundation Dinner, seem to only add to this flurry of discourse. This is also the time of year when pesky individuals enter the plaza here at Colorado State University, the same individuals who have probably shouted, “Hey! Are you registered to vote yet!?” at you as you scurry across campus.

I am sure that many of us have spent time pondering the upcoming election in some context or another, but how many of us have come to the realization that (thanks to Amendment 64 ) this election cycle marks almost three years since Colorado has had recreational marijuana legalized?

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Today, most political conversations on campus seem to be rooted in the territory of “who are you going to vote for”, not “what are you going to vote on.” It seems as if current political discourse has paid little attention the marijuana side of politics in the state. Even though Cannabis remains off of the Colorado ballot for the upcoming election cycle, residents of California, Arizona, Maine, Nevada and Massachusetts are trying figuring out if recreational cannabis is right for them.

I am pleased to bring you a refresher on how Colorado’s recreational cannabis industry has been functioning since its inception into Colorado legislation back in January of 2014. (HL) Although the industry has faced its share of hardships and struggles, it has been widely reported from Colorado’s Department of Revenue that recreational marijuana tax revenue generated $135 million in state tax revenue last year (2015). While Amendment 64 reserves $40 million of that money for use in areas like public education, the other portion of that money is sorted into keeping necessary entities running– like Governor John Hickenlooper’s Office of Marijuana Coordination.

The industry has also been reported as being marginally close to a “billion dollar a year industry”, something which has led to an increase in jobs for Colorado residents since January 2014. This recent report from Quinnipiac University shows that most Coloradan’s are happy with the changes Amendment 64 has brought them over the last two years. The poll reports that 53 percent of voters say legalized recreational marijuana has been advantageous for Colorado while in opposition, 39 percent of voters say that legalizing recreational marijuana was a bad move. One statistic that I found showed how men appeared to be more supportive and accepting towards the legalization of recreational marijuana as compared to women – 47 percent of women say it was a bad move while only 32 percent of men in the state agree.

Over these past few years, Colorado has witnessed a wide array of outcomes after legalizing recreational marijuana. The state has seen an increase in tax revenue, economic output, and jobs (all positives) though there still seems to be many kinks which have yet to be worked out.

Thank you for reading, and I hope you enjoyed this edition of the Green Report. Look out for the next installment on collegian.com or on the Green Report.

This column is sponsored by Organic Alternatives & Kind Creations.

Collegian blogger Paul Kolinski can be reached online at blogs@collegian.com or on Twitter @paulkolinski.

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    Eric GorskiOct 28, 2016 at 7:02 am

    Money from Amendment 64 does not go to support “public education.” This gives the impression that marijuana tax money is helping schools cope with state funding declines. In fact, the money is earmarked for school construction projects — and it’s a drop in the bucket. We are talking contributing to repairs and fixes, not new school buildings. The fact that voters continue to believe four years later that Amendment 64 is a godsend for schools is testament to how its supporters sold it — as something it isn’t. This message continues to have an impact on public education in Colorado. As school districts across the state seek public support for a record number of November ballot measures to finance school projects, they are confronting the false narrative that they don’t need the money because they are swimming in tax dollars from a growing industry. Marijuana legalization does loom large over this year’s election in Colorado. Eric Gorski, bureau chief, Chalkbeat Colorado.

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