News / USA

Legal Marijuana in Colorado Good for Business, Worrisome for Public Health

Legal Marijuana in Colorado Good for Business, Worrisome for Public Healthi
February 19, 2014 7:49 PM
In Colorado, the marijuana business has been booming since January, when the state legalized the sale and recreational use of the drug, despite public health concerns raised by opponents. The legal cannabis industry is expected to generate $500 million in sales and $67 million in taxes each year in Colorado. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Denver, it already is creating new opportunities for entrepreneurs.
Brian Padden
In Colorado, the marijuana business has been booming since January, when the state legalized the sale and recreational use of the drug, despite public health concerns raised by opponents. The legal cannabis industry is expected to generate $500 million in sales and $67 million in taxes each year in Colorado. It already is creating new opportunities for entrepreneurs.

Marijuana's legalization in Colorado has made Mike Paulk, who had been involved for years in the illicit trade of the drug, a legitimate businessman.

“Yeah, it made me stoked because I went to prison for cultivating weed," he said. "It was in 2000. I got caught, busted and now I am free to do it without fear. And it feeds me and clothes me and takes care of me.”

While Paulk is not licensed to sell marijuana, he is permitted to grow it for personal use and he skirts state regulations by giving it away to customers who purchase pipes. And the pipe business is thriving, he said.

Authorized marijuana dispensaries that before legalization could only cater to medical marijuana patients also have seen a major boost in sales.

Elan Nelson with Medicine Man Denver, the largest marijuana dispensary in Colorado, said the company has been growing more plants and hiring more workers to keep up with rising demand.

“Our best day when we were just a medical marijuana dispensary is now our normal day, now that we are medical and recreational,” he said.

Business also is booming for Elyse Gordon and Deloise Vaden, owners of a bakery that sells cookies, pies and candy infused with marijuana for customers who want to get high without smoking.

“We can produce approximately 1,000 pieces every seven to 10 days. And we pushed ourselves this last time and ended up with 2,000 pieces because of the demand,” Vaden said.

Critics say the danger of this intoxicating and addictive drug far outweighs any economic benefit legalization might bring.

Reed Spalding, a recovering drug addict and Denver resident, said, "For me the danger of marijuana was that it took away my motivation. I think it isolated me."

And Dr. Paula Riggs, a professor of psychiatry at the University of Colorado, warns marijuana can cause permanent damage to young people.

“In adolescents that regularly use marijuana, that has been associated with a decline of six to eight points in their adult I.Q. Doesn't look like you get that back. That's a very significant public health concern,” she said.

State officials say increased tax revenue from marijuana sales will allow them to properly regulate the industry as they do now with alcohol and tobacco, and also to fund public education and treatment programs.

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Comment Sorting
by: adam from: florida
February 21, 2014 2:04 AM
weed does not make you loose your motivation it changes your motivation to be better and make a difference. cannabis could help the world no more deforestation less people addicted to opiates a lot more help for the less fortunate funded by taxes better school system.

by: Brion Eduardo from: kansas
February 20, 2014 11:03 AM
Somebody needs to go to journalism school and learn the difference between news and opinion.

by: Duncan Wallace
February 20, 2014 2:16 AM
Cannabis has not been re-legalized in Colorado for anyone under 21 years of age.

There are exactly 2 States which have laws making cannabis an age restricted product. Does any one think that they'll need to use all 3 guesses to name those States?

"Dr." Riggs is regurgitating baseless speculation built on a platform of bald faced lies, half truths and hysterical rhetoric. Irrational fear is not a sound or valid basis for the formation of public policy. Insisting on the continued embrace of an epic, proven failure is just plain brain dead "reasoning."

To date not a single State with a medicinal cannabis patient protection law has suffered a statistically significant increase in the rate of youth use of cannabis. We certainly heard an earful of similar hysterical rhetoric during the 2000 campaign for A-20. None of those pieces of utter fiction has played out as predicted by the Know Nothing prohibitionists.

The only thing related to "the children" that the prohibitionists are concerned with is their value as political pawns and as an ingredient to make their hysterical rhetoric even more.hysterical.

by: jp
February 19, 2014 8:44 PM
"Public health concerns"
What public health concerns?

And Dr. Paula Riggs,
Wow I don't even know where to begin... the fact that your a so called doctor is scary... your a absolute f#%@ing joke... please re educate yourself on cannabis... cause you obviously are clueless when it comes to that subject...

by: Norman Gooding
February 19, 2014 6:19 PM
Apparently the only people worried about health costs are not aware that the CDC has no facts supporting any health costs for marijuana use,,no deaths,,no hospital visits,,the only mention of marijuana is in the entrance forms telling the treating doctor what drugs the patient had used so he wouldn't administer any treatment that could cause a drug reaction and has nothing to do with why the patient was in the emergency room.

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