Colorado Feels Initial Impact of Recreational Marijuana Sales

3 years 3 weeks 5 days ago March 03, 2014 Mar 3, 2014 Monday, March 03 2014 Monday, March 03, 2014 8:07:00 PM CST in News
By: Taylor Barth, KOMU 8 Reporter
loading

DENVER, Co. - As efforts to legalize marijuana in Missouri are trying to survive, Colorado is experiencing the direct impacts of taxing and regulating pot for recreational use firsthand.

Medical marijuana has been legal in Colorado since 2001, but voters passed Amendment 64 in November 2012. The amendment altered the state's drug policy on cannabis, making the recreational tax and sale of marijuana legal. On January 1, 2014 the new law took effect. All residents over 21 are now allowed to buy up to one ounce of marijuana and cultivate six plants of their own. Out-of-state residents are only allowed to purchase a quarter of an ounce. Much like alcohol, Colorado law prohibits consuming marijuana in public, driving under the influence and selling to minors. 

While the new laws have only been in effect for about three months, residents are already seeing the implications that come along with legalization.

Brian Ruden owns Starbuds, a marijuana dispensary in North Denver. The shop opened in August of 2012 and strictly sold medical marijuana. Ruden received his recreational license early this year and said he's noticed a dramatic increase in business. He said Starbuds sees from 100 to 200 customers a day, and one in four are from out of state.

"I was expecting back in December for our volume of business to maybe double," Ruden said. "In my wildest dreams I thought it would triple. For the month of January, it went up tenfold. It's backed off now that the hype has settled down a little bit, but we're still running numbers five times what they were last year."

All recreational sales are taxed and that money will go toward the state's education and infrastructure.

"Just over the course of January over $100,000 is going to the state, and I'm just one small store, so this is a huge economic boom for Colorado," Ruden said.

Ann Toney is a private attorney in Denver and a member of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws. She said legalizing marijuana is something that would be beneficial for all states.

"It's just bringing it out of the closet and into the light," Toney said. "Let's all look at it. Let's regulate it, tax it, make sure it's quality, label it and control it. I don't know what state wouldn't benefit from that."

Based on her experience with clients, Toney said she hopes the overall attitude regarding marijuana will change for the better now that recreational use is legal.

"Most of [my clients] were so afraid that anyone knew they smoked pot," Toney said. "They were teachers, insurance salesmen, realtors. They would confide in me privately. Well of course they smoked pot, but they don't want anyone to know it because it might harm them. The social stigma, I think [legalization] will take the social stigma away from pot."

With legalization also comes concerns of increased use, especially among children. Gina Carbone is a founder of Smart Colorado, an organization working to protect kids from the harmful effects of marijuana use. Colorado law requires all marijuana facilities be located at least 1,000 feet away from a school. Denver has even tougher restrictions, requiring all shops be 1,000 feet away from schools, daycares, rehabilitation centers and public parks.

Even with these restrictions, Carbone said legalization has made pot more available to the youth of Colorado. 

"The messages surrounding marijuana from the industry have been, unfortunately, that it is a organic, natural, healthy product is kind of how they like to portray it," Carbone said. "Unfortunately in Denver, where we have all these facilities, even before it was legal we've seen youth use in Denver increase dramatically. It's higher in every single age group compared to the national average for Denver youth use."

Carbone said early use of marijuana negatively affects cognitive and mental growth of children.

"It's not a harmless, benign product for adolescents in particular, and that's the message that has to get out to people as the marijuana industry is rolling out their commercialization," Carbone said. "Unfortunately, the kids and the parents of kids, I think it's important to educate them."

While some residents like Carbone are upset about the new laws, some say legalization in other states would reduce concerns like taking the drug past the state line.

"Going in between state to state, transporting from state to state because right now that's a big issue," said Denver resident Mario Spensieri. "People can get into an awful lot of trouble for that, and I don't feel that some states should have the right and other ones shouldn't."

As for Missouri efforts, there are several house bills submitted in the General Assembly. On January 13, Rep. Rory Ellinger, D-University City, filed two house bills related to marijuana. House Bill 1324 would legalize the medical use of marijuana in Missouri, while House Bill 1325 aims to decriminalize penalties for possession of pot. Rep. Chris Kelly, D-Columbia, also filed House Bill 1659 in late January, which would tax and regulate marijuana in Missouri. Similar bills last year never made it past their committees.

Show-Me Cannabis, which has been pushing to legalize marijuana in Missouri, also announced it would not be moving forward with the November 2014 initiatives. In January, the Secretary of State approved 13 initiative petition proposals by the group. Each proposal differed in the number of plants a person would be allowed to cultivate and if marijuana-related crimes could be cleared from a person's record. Show-Me Cannabis Chairman Dan Viets said the group's polling shows only 45 percent of voters support the initiatives for 2014. He said he expects that number to increase by 2016.

Related Stories

More News

Grid
List
ST. LOUIS (AP) — St. Louis Zoo officials said a new $11-million grizzly bear exhibit is expected to open in... More >>
23 minutes ago March 30, 2017 Mar 30, 2017 Thursday, March 30 2017 Thursday, March 30, 2017 9:13:00 AM CDT in News
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Missouri's Republican-led House has squashed an attempt by Democrats to expand Medicaid eligibility. Members... More >>
10 hours ago March 29, 2017 Mar 29, 2017 Wednesday, March 29 2017 Wednesday, March 29, 2017 11:25:00 PM CDT in News
COLUMBIA - Less than a week away from election day, and Columbia City Council candidates are still working to out... More >>
11 hours ago March 29, 2017 Mar 29, 2017 Wednesday, March 29 2017 Wednesday, March 29, 2017 9:49:00 PM CDT in News
JEFFERSON CITY - People looking for jobs and education opportunities will have the chance to meet employers and educators at... More >>
12 hours ago March 29, 2017 Mar 29, 2017 Wednesday, March 29 2017 Wednesday, March 29, 2017 9:31:00 PM CDT in News
ST. LOUIS (AP) — Prosecutors say a Nigerian citizen living in St. Louis was part of a stolen identity fraud... More >>
15 hours ago March 29, 2017 Mar 29, 2017 Wednesday, March 29 2017 Wednesday, March 29, 2017 6:35:00 PM CDT in News
FULTON - An area man was arrested Wednesday afternoon on suspicion of stealing, trespassing and property damage. The Fulton... More >>
15 hours ago March 29, 2017 Mar 29, 2017 Wednesday, March 29 2017 Wednesday, March 29, 2017 6:20:00 PM CDT in Coverage From Callaway
HOLTS SUMMIT - Research published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute shows colon cancer rates have been steadily... More >>
15 hours ago March 29, 2017 Mar 29, 2017 Wednesday, March 29 2017 Wednesday, March 29, 2017 6:15:00 PM CDT in News
CALLAWAY COUNTY - Two teenagers were arrested Wednesday and accused of ATV theft. According to a release, Callaway County... More >>
15 hours ago March 29, 2017 Mar 29, 2017 Wednesday, March 29 2017 Wednesday, March 29, 2017 5:56:00 PM CDT in Coverage From Callaway
COLUMBIA - Former MU Interim Chancellor Hank Foley has accepted the position of president at the New York Institute of... More >>
16 hours ago March 29, 2017 Mar 29, 2017 Wednesday, March 29 2017 Wednesday, March 29, 2017 4:56:00 PM CDT in Top Stories
CALIFORNIA - Three people were arrested on drug charges Tuesday at the Moniteau County Jail. According to a release... More >>
17 hours ago March 29, 2017 Mar 29, 2017 Wednesday, March 29 2017 Wednesday, March 29, 2017 4:26:00 PM CDT in News
LAKE OZARK - Police arrested a man Wednesday morning following a vehicle chase in which the suspect allegedly hit a... More >>
17 hours ago March 29, 2017 Mar 29, 2017 Wednesday, March 29 2017 Wednesday, March 29, 2017 4:03:00 PM CDT in News
JEFFERSON CITY - It only takes the swinging of a wrecking ball to reduce a historic building to rubble. ... More >>
18 hours ago March 29, 2017 Mar 29, 2017 Wednesday, March 29 2017 Wednesday, March 29, 2017 3:11:00 PM CDT in News
JEFFERSON CITY - Jefferson City's transit system, JEFFTRAN, wrapped up a series of six public meetings on Wednesday. JEFFTRAN... More >>
19 hours ago March 29, 2017 Mar 29, 2017 Wednesday, March 29 2017 Wednesday, March 29, 2017 2:08:00 PM CDT in News
INDEPENDENCE (AP) — A suburban Kansas City police office is hospitalized after being injured in a confrontation after short car... More >>
19 hours ago March 29, 2017 Mar 29, 2017 Wednesday, March 29 2017 Wednesday, March 29, 2017 1:56:10 PM CDT in News
JEFFERSON CITY (AP) — Lawmakers are advancing a proposal to ban Missouri cities and counties from using red-light cameras. ... More >>
19 hours ago March 29, 2017 Mar 29, 2017 Wednesday, March 29 2017 Wednesday, March 29, 2017 1:48:48 PM CDT in News
ST. LOUIS (AP) — Chuck Berry fans will have their chance to pay their respects to the late rock 'n'... More >>
19 hours ago March 29, 2017 Mar 29, 2017 Wednesday, March 29 2017 Wednesday, March 29, 2017 1:45:11 PM CDT in News
MONITEAU COUNTY - Police caught a Kansas City man who is accused of multiple burglaries across Missouri, Pennsylvania and Arkansas... More >>
20 hours ago March 29, 2017 Mar 29, 2017 Wednesday, March 29 2017 Wednesday, March 29, 2017 1:33:00 PM CDT in News
COLUMBIA - Only one state spends less per capita on its public defender system than Missouri: Mississippi. That could... More >>
22 hours ago March 29, 2017 Mar 29, 2017 Wednesday, March 29 2017 Wednesday, March 29, 2017 11:27:00 AM CDT in News
Columbia, MO
Broken Clouds 56°
10am 54°
11am 55°
12pm 56°
1pm 56°

Select a station to view its upcoming schedule:

Coming Up Next

7:00a
Today
11:00a
Rachael Ray
12:00p
KOMU 8 News @ Noon
9:00a
The Steve Wilkos Show
10:00a
Jerry Springer
11:00a
Jerry Springer

Tonight's Schedule

7:00p
Superstore
7:30p
Powerless
8:00p
Chicago Med
9:00p
The Blacklist: Redemption
7:00p
Supernatural
8:00p
Riverdale
9:00p
KOMU 8 News @ Nine on The CW
9:30p
Seinfeld