It has now been roughly a half a year since licensed recreational marijuana sales started in Colorado and officials in the state are starting to acknowledge that the process has been successful so far.
Governor John Hickenlooper (D), who was critical of legalization early on, now admits to CBS News there has been some clear benefits to the state with seemingly little change in the number of people using marijuana.
“If people didn’t smoke before, generally they’re not smoking now,” said Hickenlooper. “So we haven’t seen a giant increase in the number of people smoking marijuana, assuming that they’re giving honest answers to polls. So generally the people that were smoking are still smoking, and now they’re paying taxes. And that money, instead of going off to sometimes to our enemies, foreign countries, drug dealers, whatever, that money’s now staying in Colorado and creating jobs and generating taxes.”
Similarly, Ron Kammerzell, the director of enforcement at the Colorado Department of Revenue, told Vox implementation has gone very smoothly and many of the possible problems opponents of legalization were warning about haven’t materialized.
RK: I don’t have any crime statistics in front of me right now. But I can tell you anecdotally that the average person would say it was much ado about nothing. I would say that the rollout was extremely smooth, the sky hasn’t fallen like some had predicted, and we’re moving forward and trying to fine tune this regulatory model.
While it is still early there is a growing consensus that the experiment has gone very well so far. Supporters of legalization appear to be mostly vindicated.
Having Colorado now providing a real example to politicians, regulators, reporters, and regular people that legalization can be done in a reasonable way with few problems is going to seriously change the public conversation both nationally and internationally. It is no longer a theoretical proposal but something that exists and is working.
Jon Walker is the author of After Legalization: Understanding the future of marijuana policy