Five years ago, Colorado made history by becoming the first state in the first country to legalize marijuana for adults over the age of 21. The campaign to regulate legalized marijuana like alcohol resonated with the vast majority of voters in Colorado - and beyond. Amendment 64 paved the way for seven other states and the District of Columbia to legalize marijuana laws, with other countries closely following suit.
Taxes were also a priority for Colorado voters as they considered the value of legal marijuana use in the state. Since legalization the industry has contributed more than $500 million dollars to state coffers and been utilized as voters directed to school construction projects. While originally targeted to rural education projects exclusively, the legislature reevaluated the opportunity and added access to legal marijuana tax dollars for urban schools through a grant application process.
In addition, the industry itself is quickly becoming a major employer within the state with compensation rates well above minimum wage for entry level staff as well as higher income management. With this brand new industry has come brand new jobs that were never available before from growing and production facilities to dispensary staff. The job search for “budtender,” which is the term for the entry level sales staff in a legal marijuana dispensary returns more than 40 jobs in Colorado at most times.
Keeping voter concerns in mind, the state has kept a very close eye on the growing industry setting extremely tight regulations on growing, manufacturing and dispensary activities with public health and safety as a priority. Colorado created the Marijuana Enforcement Division of the state to oversee all aspects of the industry and works closely with all industry players to ensure compliance.
As one of those organizations taking part in this evolving industry, we are so grateful to every volunteer, every campaign worker, and every private citizen who worked to legalize marijuana in Colorado. We hope you'll join us today in celebrating an historic effort that forever changed the way that Americans can legally and safely enjoy the benefits of this amazing plant.