Colorado’s legal recreational marijuana market was the first in the nation when it launched in January 2014, so Arizonans often refer to it when debating Proposition 205, which would legalize recreational marijuana for adults 21 and older in Arizona.
If Prop 205 passes, a limited amount of government-regulated recreational marijuana dispensaries would open, and any Arizonan’s eligible to consume alcohol would also be permitted to purchase, possess, and use marijuana in a private residence.
What Colorado has learned about marijuana and its economy is that recreational marijuana has made a positive $2.4 billion impact on the local economy, reports ABC 12 News. In 2015 alone, Colorado’s marijuana industry created 18,000 new jobs and generated $121 million in tax revenues.
Arizona and Colorado both rank very low in the U.S. for education spending. Prop 205 will provide 80 percent of marijuana sales tax revenues – after the costs of maintaining the marijuana government agencies – for school districts and charter schools. The funds that each school receives would depend on enrollment. Funding would be split between overhead costs and full-day kindergarten as well.
Colorado sets aside the first $40 million for education in the BEST fund. The Colorado Department of Education also receives $2.5 million annually for behavioral health issues. A lot of controversy stems from anti-Prop 205 advertisements saying that some Denver schools received no funding. The advertisements do not mention that the schools must apply to receive the funding and because many don’t, they don’t receive any funding.
Another major concern is public health after marijuana legalization. The biggest concern is keeping marijuana out of the hands of children. Following closely behind is drugged driving. Colorado showed a reduction in suspected drugged driving (under the influence of marijuana) between 2014 and 2015.
To help prevent accidental adolescent ingestion of marijuana edibles, Colorado has required a universal symbol to be imprinted on all edibles as well as child-proof packaging. Arizona will likely follow in Colorado’s footsteps.
Overall, recreational marijuana legalization has had a positive effect in Colorado. Tourism has increased, the real estate market has increased, and even land values have increased – all thanks to marijuana legalization.