Wednesday 01 May, 2013

Rocky Mountain High – How Colorado’s Pot Experiment Is Affecting the State Economy

Colorado is an interesting place. It’s a mecca for couch-ridden stoners and on-the-go espresso swilling entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurs flock to the state because of its vibrant tech start-up scene. Stoners flock to the state because… well, nobody remembers exactly.

Amendment 64 makes it legal to smoke weed and grow a limited number of plants in Colorado. It has spurred a number of debates. There are the usual moral and health debates, but a bigger debate is brewing – How will legal pot affect the Colorado economy?

An Awesome Impact on the Economy

 Supporters of Amendment 64 said it would boost the Colorado economy, creating new revenue streams if regulated like alcohol. No need to mention that this is money the state can use. The legalization of weed itself would save a great deal on law enforcement and generate revenue through taxation alone. But it’s too early to see how this will play out.

Stoned in the Workplace

Critics say that it will hurt workplace productivity. They charge that businesses won’t want to move to Colorado to set up shop because their employees will be giggling too hard to do any work.

But others see this as a major growth area. There’s a new gap in the market to fill. Companies can devote their R&D to developing the most killer weed around. It’s been reported that when medical marijuana was first legalized, the quality of the pot available went up.

There’s already a good example of how legalization is actually attracting new business to Colorado. Canadian biotech company Abattis Bioceuticals has opened a Boulder plant to produce pot tea that can be sipped rather than smoked.

Come for the Mountains, Stay for the Killer Bud

Another benefit for the Colorado economy is marijuana tourism. It would be like folks visiting Las Vegas for the gambling. But unlike, ‘What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas,’ a new buzz phrase would have to be thought up. Maybe it could be something like, ‘Whatever happens in Colorado stays in Colorado because nobody can remember it.’

You would have the same kind of knowing chuckles that trips to Amsterdam used to bring. When a coworker says, ‘I’m going to Colorado this weekend,’ everybody nods, knowing it’s not a ski trip.

Colorado already has a highly developed tourism industry. It could just add bong hits to the menu.

When Grandma Starts Getting High…

One problem is that demand could rise. This is a common occurrence when a substance is legalized. Colorado residents are allowed to keep up to six pot plants and no more. If the demand goes up, this will put black market producers back in business. This could lead to interstate smuggling, as Northern Californian and Mexican producers move in on the business opportunity.

Colorado’s Post-Pot Economy

It’s sort of like a long, rambling story told by a stoner friend – vague, hazy on the details, and you don’t know where it’s going. Nobody knows how legal pot will impact the Colorado economy yet. It’s too early to tell. But one certainty is that the prison industry will suffer when there are no more harmless potheads to lock up.

Bob Steele

Bob Steele is an entrepreneur, software developer, marketer, and author living in the Denver metropolitan area. He’s an avid outdoorsman who loves skiing, hiking, fishing, boating, and just plain having fun. His interests include games, space, technology, physics, cooking (well eating actually), economics, business, internationalism, and team sports. With over thirty years of professional consulting experience, Bob has been exposed to many diverse business models and has gained a sensible approach to life. Bob’s company, WaveCentric is focused on commerce, marketing, and entertainment related products.

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