In November 2013, the Denver Post’s news director, Kevin Dale, said that the marijuana legalization movement would be his newspaper's "biggest story" in 2014, not the Olympic games (of which Colorado had many athletes participating in), not the 2014 midterm elections and not any breaking news event. The hottest story in 2014 would be weed in America.
And he was right.
In the mere two and a half months since legalization went into effect, marijuana in Colorado has left the rest of the world in awe. On the first day of sales, the drug made $1 million. According to a budget proposal by Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, the state is expecting roughly $1 billion in sales for the rest of the fiscal year, generating roughly $100 million in revenue for the state. The money is slated to be used to build new schools.
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.
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(Chris Miles is the founding editor at PolicyMic.)