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Six Months After Legalizing Marijuana, Two Big Things Have Happened in Colorado

Six Months After Legalizing Marijuana, Two Big Things Have Happened in Colorado

It’s now been six months since Colorado enacted its historic marijuana legalization policy, and two big things have already happened:

1. Colorado’s cash crop is turning out to be even more profitable than the state could have hoped.

In March alone, taxed and legal recreational marijuana sales generated nearly $19 million, up from $14 million in February. The state has garnered more than $10 million in taxes from retail sales in the first four months — money that will go to public schools and infrastructure, as well as for youth educational campaigns about substance use.

According to his latest budget proposal, Gov. John Hickenlooper expects a healthy $1 billion in marijuana sales over the next fiscal year. That’s nearly $134 million in tax revenue. Sales from recreational shops are expected to hit $600 million, which is a more than 50% increase over what was originally expected.

2. Denver crime rates have suddenly fallen.

Marijuana-related arrests, which make up 50% of all drug-related crimes, have plummeted in Colorado, freeing up law enforcement to focus on other criminal activity. By removing marijuana penalties, the state saved somewhere between $12 million and $40 million in 2012, according to the Colorado Center on Law and Policy.

According to government data, the Denver city- and county-wide murder rate has dropped 52.9% since recreational marijuana use was legalized in January. This is compared to the same period last year, a time frame encompassing Jan. 1 through April 30.

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