If you would have told someone living in Colorado in 2005 that in the year 2017 marijuana would be legal in the state and relatively few people would be making a fuss about it, they wouldn’t have believed you. Just a decade ago, public perception of marijuana in the state was quite different than it is today. Back then, a majority of Coloradans still believed that marijuana was incredibly harmful not only to the individuals consuming it but to society at large. They thought that marijuana consumption and possession should be punished by time in jail or a fine. If you don’t believe that’s true, just go take a look at some of the public opinion polls coming out around 2005 regarding marijuana. Of course, some time between then and now, public perception changed. In large numbers, Coloradans came to realize that marijuana isn’t the harmful drug that many people believed it to be. They also realized that there are many different ailments that marijuana can help to treat, such as chronic pain, anxiety and depression, and migraines. When you poll Coloradans today, a clear majority feel that marijuana should be legal for both recreational and medicinal purposes.
Today, it’s not hard to find a marijuana dispensary in Colorado. In fact, in some parts of the state, such as Denver and Boulder, they’re just about as common as coffee shops. When recreational marijuana made its way onto the ballot, Coloradans overwhelmingly approved it. So what happened? What made people change their minds so quickly about the plant and its uses? For one thing, people came to better understand all of the medicinal benefits of marijuana use. There are huge numbers of Americans that suffer from PTSD, anxiety, seizure disorders, and/or chronic pain, and numerous studies started coming out that showed that marijuana was incredibly effective at treating these ailments. People began to think to themselves that if marijuana could help people treat these kinds of ailments that they were dealing with, then it couldn’t be all that bad.
Then studies started coming out showing how many people were in jail for nonviolent marijuana charges. People realized that such people shouldn’t be crowding our jails, especially since there are so many benefits to marijuana consumption. The final straw was the fact that many people had tried marijuana at one time or another in their lives and came to believe that the negative impacts of its use were being overstated by the media and opponents of the plant. All of these things combined to change public perception, and when recreational cannabis made its way onto the ballot, voters let their sentiments be heard.
Marijuana, in all of its forms, is now legal in the state of Colorado, and the state is benefitting greatly from it. The taxes that the state receives from dispensaries like Boulder Wellness Center are in excess of one hundred million dollars each year, and that number continues to rise. Use among teens is also down. It looks like all Colorado had to do to improve its budgetary situation and to decrease marijuana use among teens was to make the plant legal. Who would have thought?