Ten years ago voters in Colorado approved a ballot measure called Amendment 64 that legalized cannabis for adult, recreational use. This not only created a booming avenue of tourism for Denver – which became the Las Vegas of legal weed – but sparked a domino effect of similar reforms across the US, eventually leading 19 states (and DC) to legalize recreational marijuana, and increase the number of medically legal states to 37.
Since then, Colorado has racked up $13.2bn in cannabis sales, which has gleaned $2.2bn in taxes and fees for the state.
Recently Joe Biden announced he would be pardoning all federal marijuana offenses, encouraged governors to do the same, and asked for a review of its schedule 1 status, where it is placed alongside heroin and LSD as having “no medicinal value”.
It has been a decade of remarkable change. Instead of birthing a huge new American industry, back in 2012, many conservative pundits and politicians predicted legal weed would plunge Denver into a post-apocalyptic chaos.
Former Colorado governor and current US senator John Hickenlooper – who, like nearly every other Colorado politician, strongly opposed legalization – confessed that time had proved his anxieties to be unfounded.
“Today, I go into the US Senate on a regular basis and say that we can prove that since we legalized marijuana there has been no increase in teenage experimentation, no increase in driving while high,” Hickenlooper said at a recent event marking the…