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Marijuana: Colorado's legal pot sales rollout is succeeding, new report says

Categories: Marijuana

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Photo by Brandon Marshall
3D Cannabis Center's Toni Fox on day one of legal marijuana sales in Colorado. Additional photos and an original document below.
Since the January 1 launch of legal recreational marijuana sales in Colorado, there's been debate aplenty about the wisdom of this civic experiment -- and a new report from the Brookings Institution's Center for Effective Public Management on view below won't end it. But the findings of the study, unambiguously entitled "Colorado's Rollout of Legal Marijuana Is Succeeding," cheer cannabis advocates, who see the paper as more evidence that the catastrophes predicted by policy naysayers haven't come to pass.

See also: Marijuana: John Hickenlooper, Mason Tvert react to feds' Amendment 64 decision

At the outset, author John Hudak, a Brookings fellow in governance studies and managing editor of the FixGov blog, stresses that the report "takes no position on whether the legalization of retail marijuana was the correct decision. Instead, it takes for granted that Amendment 64 and its progeny are the law and should be implemented successfully, per voters' wishes. The report examines what the state has done well and what it has not."

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An image from the Brookings Institution's Facebook page.
Hudak summarizes the findings like so:
• It's too early to judge the success of Colorado's policy, but it is not too early to say that the rollout -- initial implementation -- of legal retail marijuana has been largely successful.

• The state has met challenging statutory and constitutional deadlines for the construction and launch of a legal, regulatory, and tax apparatus for its new policy. In doing so, it has made intelligent decisions about regulatory needs, the structure of distribution, prevention of illegal diversion, and other vital aspects of its new market. It has made those decisions in concert with a wide variety of stakeholders in the state.

• Colorado's strong rollout is attributable to a number of elements. Those include: leadership by state officials; a cooperative, inclusive approach centering on task forces and working groups; substantial efforts to improve administrative communication; adaptive regulation that embraces regulatory lookback and process-oriented learning; reorganizing, rebuilding, and restaffing critical state regulatory institutions; and changes in culture in state and local government, among interest groups, and among the public.

• Regulations address key concerns such as diversion, shirking, communication breakdowns, illegal activity, and the financial challenges facing the marijuana industry. However, some regulations were also intended to help regulators, as they endured rapid, on-the-job training in dealing with legal marijuana.

• Despite real success, challenges involving edibles, homegrown marijuana, tax incentives, and marijuana tourism remain, and the state must address them in a more effective way.

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Mason Tvert.
No surprise that Marijuana Policy Project spokesman Mason Tvert -- the former co-director of the campaign for Amendment 64, which legalized limited marijuana sales to adults 21 and over -- is enthusiastic about the study. After Brookings unveiled the paper, he released a statement arguing that Colorado is proving "there is an alternative to marijuana prohibition. The state is generating millions of dollars in new tax revenue, and hundreds of millions of dollars in marijuana sales are taking place in legitimate businesses instead of in the underground market.

"Opponents' fears have proven to be unfounded," Tvert adds. "Since Colorado began regulating medical marijuana in 2010, it has experienced major economic growth, the real estate market is flourishing, and tourism has reached record levels. Officials have not found one instance of marijuana businesses selling to minors, and rates of marijuana use have remained steady. There has been no increase in crime linked to the new law, and law enforcement officials are no longer spending their time punishing adults for possession."

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Neill Franklin.
Also weighing in is Major Neill Franklin, executive director of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP). In his own statement, he writes that "the Brookings Institution proved what many of us have known for a long time: that legalizing and regulating marijuana and other drugs can be done thoughtfully and responsibly to the benefit of our communities. As legalization spreads across the country, regulatory models will only continue to improve, crime continue to drop, and public understanding of drug addiction as a public health problem, not as a matter for law enforcement, continue to expand."

Thus far, neither Smart Colorado nor Project SAM, among the highest-profile organizations fighting marijuana legalization on a local and national scale, have posted any response to the Brookings report, and the same is true of Project SAM affiliate and anti-pot crusader Dr. Christian Thurstone. However, the most recent post on Thurstone's website cities statistics showing that Denver's crime rate is up 7 percent and hints heavily that legal marijuana sales are a factor in the rise.

Here's the complete Brookings report.

Brookings Report on Colorado Marijuana Rollout

Send your story tips to the author, Michael Roberts.


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21 comments
Max Padilla
Max Padilla

Great job! Keep up the good work Colorado we're way ahead of the rest of the world except the Nederland's maybe

A Chris Heismann
A Chris Heismann

Stan, part of the argument those opposed to pot legalization were using is that crime would rise. It has not. That proves it's not tied to legalization, at least not in a negative way, and it's important to point out that crime has gone down. That decrease means that they were wrong that legalization would cause crime increases. Should legalization take credit for the decrease? Probably not - but it should be mentioned because I guarantee you those that disapprove of legalization will latch onto any increase in crime statistics to prove they're right. The more people see that crime is going down now despite legalization means that any increase that later happens will be less likely to believed to be associated with legalization.

Clayton Capra
Clayton Capra

The sky is still firmly intact despite predictions of doom.

Kevin A. Mahmalji
Kevin A. Mahmalji

Crime is down, tax revenue up and no shops are selling to minors. Seems like a pretty damn good start.

SedonaSherpa
SedonaSherpa

Is your "pot" missing trichomes? Is there zero resin left in your screens - only "ash" left? Do you find a lack of medicinal value after dosing ?


Please inform yourselves on the science...this is not rocket science...and do not convince yourself...that because the stuff you bought looks spectacular and is similar to marijuana - that it actually is!  Ask questions... Ask a grower to explain the mother nature aspect of the plant and the outrageous claims of 20% THC yet there is no THC crystals on the bud...

RobertChase
RobertChase topcommenter

Hudak is a liar! Colorado did not legalize cannabis; last year, Sen. Pat Steadman sponsored SB13-250, which re-instituted all the felonies for cannabis while increasing their maximum severity to a Class 1 felony (like premeditated murder). Gov. Hack signed the bill into law on May 28, 2013 -- all any journalist would have to do to verify the fact that cannabis is five kinds of felony would be to consult C.R.S. 18-18-406. The Establishment, its lapdog media, big cannabis businesses, and supposed criminal justice reform organizations are all motivated to promote the lie that "Colorado legalized marijuana", and Hudak's report is just more of the same cant, a grossly deficient and misleading account of what has happened in Colorado!  There is no need to read any further down than "At its heart, this report is about good government ..." to realize that this garbage is nothing but a disgusting political whitewash of Hack's sorry record of subversion of the process of implementation of Amendment 64 and contradiction of its expressly stated intent.  Hudak's outrageous inversion of the truth and endorsement of the process by which the intent of the Amendment was savaged as "good government" marks him as a political panderer of the lowest order.  The Brooking Institute must be worthless to put its imprimatur on this dreck!

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

 "Regulations address key concerns such as diversion, shirking, communication breakdowns, illegal activity ..."


LOL!


The Greedy Big $$ Dispensary Cartels divert THOUSANDS of POUNDS of marijuana out the back door into the interstate "black market" and the laughably pathetic DoR MED is too clueless and powerless to stop them. 


Without ILLEGAL DIVERSION, many dispensaries would go bankrupt, and in fact many have.



DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

"Despite real success, challenges involving edibles, homegrown marijuana ..."


So "homegrown marijuana" is now EVIL and must be ERADICATED via CRIMINAL ENFORCEMENT ... that the Greedy Big $$ Dispensary Cartels can FORCE EVERY STONER in Colorado to purchase their overpriced, overtaxed, government controlled, environmentally harmful, warehouse schwag!!


REGULATION WORKS!! -- Get REGULATED, Bitches! -- You Voted For It !!



DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

"Instead, it takes for granted that Amendment 64 and its progeny are the law and should be implemented successfully, per voters' wishes."


So all the NEW FELONIES for Marijuana should be FULLY ENFORCED , because those are the will of the Voters!!

Monkey
Monkey

@RobertChase Tvert is no better.  "law enforcement officials are no longer spending their time punishing adults for possession." Who is he kidding?

RobertChase
RobertChase topcommenter

@Monkey @RobertChase  Arrests for offenses involving cannabis are down substantially, and charges of possession are likely down more proportionately.  While I too take issue with Mason's claim, it seems to me to be of an entirely different order than trying to rewrite recent history, falsifying most of it.

Monkey
Monkey

@RobertChase 

Arrests may be down, if you believe what cops say, and charges may be down too, but that doesn't mean police aren't spending the same amount, or more time punishing adults for weed. 

On a side note, what do you think about Erie. No one seems to care they force patients to register with the city, and bust people following constitutional law with code violations. None of the media is talking about it either. I find that strange.

http://www.erieco.gov/documentcenter/view/4734

RobertChase
RobertChase topcommenter

@Monkey @RobertChase Interesting -- it is totally illegal, of course.  If anyone has complied with that ordinance, they should be advised to stop.  Erie should be sued over it.

janthoferdb
janthoferdb

@RobertChase @Monkey

Mason Tvert, one of legalization's most visible proponents in Colorado, said the basic police work behind marijuana cases today remains unchanged: Figure out what's going on and apply it to the law.

"They were counting marijuana plants and determining what the penalty should be before," Tvert said. "And that's the same as it is today. ... It's really difficult to see why this is so confusing."

Maybe 8-32 years is confusing.

www.denverpost.com/news/ci_26147592/legalization-complicates-police-marijuana-investigations-colorado

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@janthoferdb @RobertChase @Monkey


Maybe Mendacious Mason Tvert, Lyin' Brian Vicente, Bullshit Betty Aldworth, Slippery Steve Fox and the other LYING LIARS behind that festering piece of shit A64 should do the PRISON TIME for all those citizens still being arrested and prosecuted for their "Legalized" marijuana.


Wouldn't THAT be karmic?

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