In the years since 2012, Washington State, the District of Columbia, Alaska and Oregon have passed marijuana legalization measures. With several states considering creating measures of their own, it is clear that the legilative bodies can no longer ignore the potential for revenue and growth. I especially noticed this when I went home recently. In a surprizing move, governor Gina Riamundo of Rhode Island proposed a legalization measure. However, unlike all the other places that put the measure through a vote, Riamundo suggested something different; she suggested that the bill be passed through the General Assembly without a popular vote. This would be the first time for this to happen and this has everyone very excited. If Rhode Island becomes the first state on the East coast to have a legal market, the benefits would be astounding. Rhode Island is a cash strapped state. In a state of 1.6 million, the unemployment nears 11 percent, the infrastructure is failing and, being the highest taxed populace, its people could use relief and reinvestment. Everyone I spoke with, no matter what their stance on the issue, clearly understands how legalization would positively impact the state. Most people in Rhode Island see how the tax revenue raised in Colorado beneficially impacts the state, and people would like to see that. They want drivable roads, safe bridges and a reinvestment of revenue into the local economy. If Rhode Island was the first state on the East coast to legalize recreational marijuana, we would get business from from all of New England, New York, New Jersey, and Pennyslvania.
Rhode Island has had medical since 2006 and the market and culture have grown steadily through the years. The infrastructure would have no problem adjusting to a recreational market. In fact, growers are allowed to distrubute to the Massachusetts medical market. Because Massachusetts is struggling to keep up with demand, the two states made an agreement. As a result, I feel that RI would be suitable for a recreational market. As it works right now, there are only about 6 companies that supply the market. Within the recreational measure, anyone who got approval from the state would be allowed to diversify the market. It would really open up the market for regular people to take part in a great movement and I really hope it comes to fruition in an egalitarian environment. It would be great for the state and in all reality, Rhode Island would prosper and thrive, no longer just getting by and barely surviving.
Since December 10, 2012 Colorado has had a legal Cannabis market and it's impact was almost immediate. The State's economy, tourism, and even it's people are benefitting regardless of whether or not they partake in the plant. As Colorado embarked on one of the greatest social experiments in recent memory, it has become a beacon for the Marijuana tourist and enthuiast. Revenue generated from total over all sales of cannabis has surpassed the alcohol revenue in 2015. In 2014 the Department of Revenue released the gross taxes from marijuana and it topped 63 million dollars. Renewal and licensing fees from dispensaries generated 13 million dollars in tax revenue. In the following year, dispensaries and other ansillary services generated $996,184,788 in revenue. At this time the current tax revenue data is unavailable, however put that into perspective. 996,184,788 dollars generated both by residents and vistors to our state; let's say a third to a half of that money was spent by residents. They would directly contribute to Colorado's economy with steady spending habits and a fluid contribution to a growing state economy. It isn't the same story for tourists.
Tourism has a great effect on the economy even if it is coming from marijuana based tourism. Here in Trinidad, we see a great amount of tourists from Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, and Kansas. These visitors are grateful to be here, being that they can partake with no threat or fear of having their lives ruined by facsist, dracionian drug laws. So, being in such high spirits, they spend thier money locally at hotels, restaurants, shops, bars and they are very generous. As far as Cannabis being in Colorado you can be free to be who you are. And this has inspired many to move here and call Colorado home. Just in 2015 alone 200,000 people moved to the state including myself. When I renewed my Occupational badge, there were 37,216 people permitted to work in the industry. With the massive influx of people coming here for the Marijuana culture, it is plain to see the effect on the economy and tourism and it is undeniable.
With such a rapid migration of people to the state, and the resulting effect on tax revenue, there has been a tax surplus every year since the legalization took effect in 2012. In 2015 the tax rebate was around 38 dollars per resident. Instead of recieving that rebate check, Colorado voters chose to reallocate that funding back into infrastructure, schools and prevention and drug treatment programs. Even the opponents of legal marijuana can not deny that it is beneficial to the state and it's residents. With all the revenue and tourism benefitting Colorado, this grand social experiment is undeniably a great thing for our society and other states are taking note.