A recent report by the Marijuana Policy Group found that legal cannabis generated $2.4 million and created 18,000 jobs in Colorado in 2015.
This spike will have to be examined over the next couple of years to see if it is sustainable as hard numbers for cannabis in the past are unavailable due to spending the last 80 years hidden in the shadows of the black market. If the numbers do hold, cannabis will generate more tax revenue for Colorado than tobacco by 2020. It has already surpassed alcohol and casino tax revenues.
“It would be easy to confuse the rapid growth in marijuana sales with an inherent growth in marijuana demand,” study co-author and MPG founder Adam Orens said in an interview. “But that is not the case. Legal marijuana sales are increasing due to a supply shift—away from gray and black market suppliers, toward licensed suppliers.”
Cannabis creates a wide variety of jobs; from employees needed to maintain warehouse spaces to security companies employed to monitor grows and dispensaries. The increase in technology also creates a large number of jobs. Indoor growing facilities utilize state of the art lighting and temperature control systems that need to be installed and updated. Step inside any dispensary and you will see that most are not hobbled together, dimly lit shacks. They are designed, built and staffed with style and experience.
“If this is done right, regulated right, taxed right, this industry can bring real economic benefits to a state,” Orens stated. “If the state or the local governments manage, permit and enforce [marijuana regulation] in a thoughtful way, then this can have real benefits.”
When cannabis is put up against other areas of the Colorado economy, it stacks up very well.
“Applying the marijuana impact model to Colorado, it was found that each dollar spent on retail marijuana generates $2.40 in state output,” it says in the MPG report. “This compares favorably with general retail trade, which yields $1.88 per dollar. The more traditional (and sometimes subsidized) mining sector generates $1.79 per dollar. General manufacturing generates $1.94 per dollar, and casinos generate just $1.73 per dollar of spending.”