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Colorado Offers Window Into MMJ Industry

May 25th

At Leela European Cafe, a quirky, 24-hour coffee shop and bar in the heart of downtown, a bartender was quick with her thoughts on Colorado’s experience with the legal sale of medical marijuana.

“It’s really easy to get,” said Cara Wanek, 25, who says she uses it to calm her anxiety, boost her appetite and help her sleep. “And it’s delicious.” That’s exactly what Illinois is trying to avoid. While Colorado is not quite the Wild West of medical marijuana, it offers a window into the opportunities and consequences that arise when a state allows the legal sale of a long-banned drug.

The state’s therapeutic cannabis industry launched in earnest in late 2009, triggering a “green rush” that boosted the state’s economy. Big Marijuana added thousands of new jobs, revitalized aging industrial warehouses and shuttered storefronts, and generated millions of tax dollars for the federal, state and local governments.

At the same time, state officials acknowledge they were unprepared to license, inspect and regulate medical marijuana businesses, leaving millions of fees and taxes uncollected and a significant swath of the industry unchec. . . . . READ MORE

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