By Natalie Kfoury – Editor-in-Chief
Recently, shoppers all across America rejoiced, emptied their pockets, and filled up their car trunks with savings galore on Black Friday. However, certain shoppers in Colorado and Washington dubbed the holiday “Green Friday,” as they stocked up on recreational marijuana deals, according to a USA Today article (“It’s Green Friday, not Black Friday, at Colo. marijuana stores”).
However, the drug wasn’t the only thing flowing in and out of dispensaries. To access Green Friday deals in some places, customers had to bring canned food that would be donated to local homeless shelters. Arguably, these canned goods would not have been procured from the community if it had not been for Green Friday, which is a result of recreational marijuana legalization.
As Massachusetts decides whether or not to vote on the legalization of pot on ballots in 2016, they should look at the success Colorado has seen.
Canned good donations are not the only positive result of recreational marijuana legalization. Since weed was legalized for recreational use in Colorado on January 1, 2014, there has been a 10.1 percent decrease in overall crime and 5.2 percent drop in violent crime in comparison to last year, according to uniform crime reporting for the state.
According to Marijuana Industry Group, the weed industry had generated thousands of new jobs. There are an estimated 10,000 people directly involved with the industry with 1,000-2,000 gaining employment from the months of July-September 2014 alone (“Colorado marijuana revenues hit a new high” – The Washington Post).
Perhaps one of the biggest positives for states that have legalized recreational use of marijuana is found in the taxes. Colorado’s tax revenue from medical and recreational marijuana hit the $45 million mark in year-to-date in August. The first $40 million of that tax has been earmarked for public projects, such as school construction, according to The Huffington Post.
Many oppose legalization of the drug in fear that children will get a hold of it, but Colorado has figured out a way to avoid this. Remember that $40 million of the tax revenue that was reserved for specific use? Some of that is going towards youth educational campaigns about substance use, and to substance abuse treatment centers, according to The Denver Post.
There are many more ways the legalization of both medical and recreational marijuana have been positive for communities in Colorado and Washington. While many still argue that weed is a highly addictive gateway drug that can lead to many medical concerns, many of these arguments are simply not valid (“The 11 stupidest arguments against legalizing marijuana” – The Huffington Post).
Instead of clinging to fear, Massachusetts voters should look at the many positives Colorado produced when consideration of legalization. If weed is a taxable commercial product, many benefit from not only buying the product safely, but also from the tax revenues that go to help all.