When Colorado became the first state to legalize recreational marijuana, it was not through the legislature, and it did not have the approval of Gov. Hickenlooper, but it was the voters who came together to bring positive change. Similar to many legislators, Gov. Hickenlooper was concerned for public health and safety, but after several years of ironing out the details in the program, the governor now shares the opinion of so many Colorado residents, the sky isnt falling and the law is working. Not only is the industry showing massive success, but Colorado continues to have one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country (4.2%) and the state has been ranked as one of the best places to live. Many were unsure it could happen, but it seems like marijuana has settled as a permanent part of Colorado.
“In the short run, there have been a lot fewer public safety and health issues than the governor feared in the beginning,” said Freedman, who is often referred to as the state’s marijuana czar. “In the beginning, we had problems with edibles and hash oil fires but now, for the most part, Colorado looks a lot like it did before legalization.”
Marijuana consumption has not changed much from pre-legalization levels and there has been no significant increase in public health and safety problems, he said.
As for the $100 million in tax revenue, Freedman noted, that's out of a $27-billion state budget.
Some 70% of the money is earmarked for school construction, public health initiatives and other projects. The rest goes back into regulating the industry.