In Colorado, A Blazing Start

COLORADO: Legal retail weed in Colorado turned one year old this month. While legalization remains more experimental than established at this point, the early returns make a compelling case that the first year was a sweeping regulatory success in the Rocky Mountain State.

Exhibit A: what didn’t happen in 2014. Despite the nightmare scenarios that anti-legalization advocates foretold, there was nothing to suggest a major jump in marijuana use among Colorado teens. The number of drug-related crimes in the state held steady or dropped. And the spike in traffic fatalities resulting from drugged driving that naysaying opponents had predictedfailed to materialize. Yes, a lot could still change as the nascent retail market matures, but it’s now clear that the state’s first-of-its-kind experiment with recreational weed is off to a blazing start.

Colorado voted to make recreational pot legal in late 2012, and the state spent the next year crafting an innovative licensing system to tax and regulate retail sales, which then began on New Year’s Day 2014. The rollout has gone so well that Gov. John Hickenlooper, who once said Colorado voters were “reckless” to legalize weed, has changed his tune.