Pennsylvania Senator Sen. Daylin Leach: What I learned about legal pot in Denver (column)

By Sen. Daylin Leach

This past week, I, and three members of my legislative staff flew to Denver, Colorado to see for ourselves what the complete legalization of cannabis looks like. Given the polls, what other states are doing, and the arc of history, it seems difficult to deny that legal cannabis is coming to Pennsylvania fairly soon. We wanted to make sure we understood how it works and what Colorado did right, and wrong, in an effort to ensure we do this the right way when the time comes.

We packed as much information-gathering as we could into our three days. We toured two facilities where the marijuana is grown, one lab where it is processed, one where it is tested for potency and impurities and two dispensaries, which are essentially marijuana stores. We then visited the headquarters of the National Conference of State Legislators to discuss trends in legislation.

We also tried to spend some time just interacting with Denver. We wanted to see how people were living their lives with these new policies in place. How noticeable is legal marijuana on the streets, in restaurants, at a Rockies game? Is life different? What would ending prohibition mean day-to-day here in Pennsylvania? Here is what we’ve found:

The thing that became most clear during our trip is what a tremendous economic opportunity this is. The larger grow facility we toured employs 65 people in high-paying horticultural jobs. The labs we saw employed doctors, medical technicians, mechanical engineers and extensive support staff. The dispensaries employed security, technicians and even the sales force, known as “bud-tenders,” had to be highly educated about their products, and thus commanded a very good salary.