COLORADO: By any metric, 2014 was a monumental year for the legalization of cannabis. Colorado became the first state in the U.S. to allow recreational use and the overwhelmingly positive impact on the state’s economy, school funding, and crime rates helped to spark the nationwide domino effect we’re seeing today as more and more states look to consider legalization. Colorado saw nearly $700 million in marijuana sales last year, generating over $63 million in tax revenue.
Brian Vicente of VicenteSederberg LLC was a key advocate and campaigner for Amendment 64, which called to regulate marijuana like alcohol. As one of the primary authors of the bill, Vicente was instrumental in creating the framework and effective messaging that resonated with voters. He has been called the “the industry’s de facto spokesperson” by The Guardian (UK) and his practice dubbed “the country’s first powerhouse marijuana law firm” by RollingStone.
As part of our Future of Cannabis coverage, Equities.com caught up with Vicente to discuss the next phase of the cannabis industry, what states he thinks are next, and what went wrong in Ohio.
EQ: You were one of the primary authors of Amendment 64, which led to the monumental legalization of cannabis for recreational use in Colorado. It’s been nearly two years since that came into effect. Reflecting on the framework and its implementation, how have things progressed based on your initial expectations?
Vicente: I think they’ve really been positive from both an economic and social standpoint. With most major cultural shifts, traditionally you don’t see an opportunity for commerce. But with marijuana legalization, we really have seen that. There’s this intersection of social change. We’ve changed this policy that was illegal for 80 years, and with that, simultaneously there’s this opportunity for commerce.
We’ve see a ton of exuberance from investors looking to enter this field. We have a lot of creative ideas percolating. Colorado feels sort of like the Silicon Valley of marijuana. You’ve got 10,000-plus new jobs created since marijuana was made legal directly in the marijuana industry and probably another 10,000 ancillary jobs that are supporting that industry just in our state. Really, for what is considered as a generally down economy nationally this has really worked out quite well for Colorado.