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SOCO Student Media from Colorado State University Pueblo

The Today

SOCO Student Media from Colorado State University Pueblo

The Today

SOCO Student Media from Colorado State University Pueblo

The Today

Cannabis and its effects on Pueblo County

By Brandon Samora

The United States is known as the melting pot of the world, and with all the different people, come different ideologies and thought processes. Therefore cannabis is not thought of the same by everyone, but that’s just the nature of the beast when it comes to the topic. 

Pueblo County has been a beneficiary of the retail sale of cannabis. Legally there are hundreds, even thousands of different possible scenarios that have to be monitored when it comes to cannabis. Economically the boom has been an adrenaline shot into the Pueblo County economy. 

On April 1, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to decriminalize cannabis, and if passed through the Senate and signed by President Biden, the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act would remove cannabis from the federal list of controlled substances and eliminate criminal penalties for its distribution and possession. This would start a snowball effect process for expunging past convictions, one of the biggest issues facing the legalization of cannabis.

The Pueblo County Cannabis Impact Study was conducted in 2017 by the Institute of Cannabis Research at CSU Pueblo. According to the study, Pueblo saw a rise in GDP per capita, real estate values and construction spending. All of these statistics are just basic economics: If cannabis is only available in certain locations, people will seek out and travel to get the resources, thus adding economic impact to the Pueblo Community.

Since legalization in 2012 and implementation in 2014, the cannabis industry has had a booming impact on Pueblo County’s economy. [Shutterstock photo illustration]
Economic multipliers are factors that when increased or changed, can have large-scale effects on variables for an economy. The economic multiplier in mind (cannabis) brought value to the city and county of Pueblo. In the first year of retail sales (2014) the total annual tax collection from cannabis sales was $1,750,907. This number jumped to $2,209,540 the next year (2015) and up to $3,449,842 in 2016, per The Pueblo County Cannabis Impact Study.

Due to the fact that cannabis has been limited to such a local area when it comes to retail, it creates vertical integration – the merging of two businesses that are at different stages of production. The two different stages of production in this case, licensed businesses are not just selling recreational cannabis within Pueblo County, they’re growing it too. Pueblo is economically “double-dipping” due to the fact that not only are there job opportunities to work the retail stores of cannabis, there are jobs to run the cultivation businesses of cannabis. 

Now there are still concerns and always will be when it comes to the recreational legalization of cannabis. One of the biggest concerns is crime and how the legalization of cannabis affects this issue in Pueblo.

According to data from the Pueblo County Impact Study, medical marijuana legalization (MML) is not predictive of higher crime rates and may be related to reductions in rates of homicide and assault. An increase in crime and the legalization of cannabis are nearly a non-existent relationship. According to the study, crimes including homicide, car theft, burglary, along with a number of other crimes, did not go up in areas where cannabis had been legalized. In many instances, this dropped the consumption of alcohol, which tends to lead to less crime in any certain area. 

Since cannabis is still not legal at the federal level, all studies are done at a local level, so numbers might vary depending on the area of the country.

 ** Related content: Colorado’s marijuana legalization, Amendment 64 **
** Cannabis and its effects on Pueblo County **
** A serious look at a significant industry **
** Experts discuss the intersections of cannabis, health and food **
** Point: A veteran’s take on PTSD, pain and cannabis **
** Counterpoint: The reality of recreational cannabis **
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