Colorado residents are having second thoughts about the way their state legalized marijuana. In a recent interview with the FT, the state’s Governor, John Hickenlooper, advised other states considering legalization for tax revenue purposes to “go slow” and think carefully about their motivations. The state is now predicted to take in $20 million less than expected in tax revenue from marijuana sales. Hickenlooper opposed legalization from the start, but a poll last month also showed that 50 percent of respondents now believe that legalization was a bad idea. (The original amendment to legalize passed by 55-44 percent of the vote). 49 percent of respondents believe the state has implemented the law poorly. This week the Washington Post ran a column contextualizing this shift in public opinion:
Edibles are the big issue. Coloradans have been astonished at the array of delicious THC delivery systems: candy, sodas, even, at LoDo, spiced peanuts soaked in marijuana oil. Edibles account for 45 percent of the legal marijuana market, according to the Colorado Cannabis Chamber of Commerce. Given that Colorado adopted legalization on an adults-only basis, this doesn’t sit well with a lot of parents.The actual health risks, as opposed to the risk of underage usage, are unclear. Still, bad reactions to THC-laced treats have landed several children and adults in the emergency room and possibly led to two deaths. Consequently, the state tightened rules on labeling and dosage
Legalization continues to be a necessary end to a failed drug war, but that end will be extremely messy and introduce plenty of new problems. These early snags are only a small part of the challenges legalization will pose as more states follow Colorado’s lead.