The pros and cons of legalizing pot
DENVER, Colorado (WDTN) -There are a lot of claims surrounding marijuana legalization.
Some say it helps the economy and brings jobs while others say it creates more crime and puts kids at risk.
The truth is, the impact is good or bad depending on who you ask.
“I think the world is looking at Colorado and I think this is this great period with great social and economic change around controlled substances. I think this is the test case,” said Adam Orens with the Marijuana Policy Group in Denver.
Marijuana has been legal in Colorado for more than a year. It’s a new industry, so it took some work to get it up and running.
“Its very costly to set up with a whole brand new industry and regulate it and try to enforce it. It’s been quite a struggle,” said Gina Carbone, co-founder of SMART Colorado.
Several task forces were involved in figuring out how to legalize pot in the state when it’s still illegal federally. One big issue is marijuana is a cash business because banks are federally insured.
“I think we worry about the banking issue. I think it’s a real issue. It’s a cash business which I think can put employees at risk, people around at risk, because that is a lot of cash to be moving around,” said President of Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce, Kelly Brough
Colorado did not make as much money as originally estimated off pot. Last year, they brought in 44 million dollars in new taxes. The estimate was about 30 million off.
Brough said they’ve worked hard to make sure businesses know they can still have a drug-free workplace in the state. She says there’s one positive change they’ve noticed: an increase in commercial property sales.
“The operations that grow marijuana utilize often underutilized commercial, industrial big warehouses. These tend to be less expensive commercial space, we saw the price for those go up for those spaces when marijuana was legalized,” said Brough.
Places like MindFul are using those facilities. CEO Meg Sanders says her business does more than just help the real estate side of things.
“Then there’s this whole ancillary side of security teams and marketing teams and packaging and you name it that comes along with this..not to mention the huge boost to the economy that we’ve done in particular to contractors, HVAC, plumbers, it’s massive. It’s a huge opportunity for everybody,” said Sanders.
Not everyone in the state has the same opinion.
Natalie: “Do you think the legalization of marijuana had a negative impact in Colorado?”
Erie, Colorado’s Chief Marco Vasquez: “I would say ultimately it isn’t good for our society.”
Chief Vasquez said law enforcement has had challenges identifying drugged drivers and keeping the legal marijuana from leaving the state. He says crime has gone up but says there’s no way to know if it’s because of legalizing pot.
“I will tell you I think it is more complex for law enforcement because there is a lot more gray area for officers to contend with,” said Chief Vasquez.
Once anyone over 21 could get pot in the state, another concern was how easy could kids get it. The state now requires all edible products such as pot gummies and marijuana candy bars to be put in a specific type of package.
“Somehow that food has to look different; there has to be an identifier on it,” said Carbone
While there are a number of specific issues still being hammered out at the Colorado statehouse, the general opinion we got from those in the state was marijuana hasn’t really changed their day to day lives that much.
“I don’t think there are really that many widespread, disastrous, impacts,” said Orens.
Whether for or against pot, the leaders in Colorado leave this advice to Ohio or any other state wanting to take on legal marijuana.
“When it becomes the law, it becomes the law…no matter what your position on it was and you better figure out how to make it work,” said Brough