With all the battles that patients have had to endure to be able to get some relief with medicinal marijuana use, it is almost unbelievable that now marijuana may soon be widely available on the open market. Beginning January 1, 2014, Colorado will become the first state in the nation to make it legal for customers 21 and over to purchase marijuana for recreational purposes.
Newports, Kools, Camels, and other cigarette brands will now have some heady competition. The advertising companies will have a field day coming up with attractive packaging, memorable jingles and superbowl-worthy television commercials for marijuana. The possibilities are endless.
The biggest difference for medicinal and recreational users will be that those who partake of the newly-legal herbs just for fun will be subjected to a vice tax, if you will. What is a vice tax? According to this article from The Washington Times, “Federal and state governments annually rake in $96 billion in revenue fed by Americans’ appetites for easy money, nicotine and booze, according to an analysis by The Washington Times. Take away the taxman’s take on gambling, drinking and smoking, and many jurisdictions would be in serious financial straits.”
This raises many questions that will only be answered as time passes. Will prisoners currently serving jail time be released or be grandfathered into finishing out their terms because marijuana was illegal when they were arrested? Will this new law cause layoffs for correctional officers and other prison employees?
Serial murders and other horror-movie-styled crimes are actually not nearly as prevalent as it seems. They are just more sensationalized in the media. The majority of prisoners arrested on local drug charges are not running glamorized drug cartels, but possessing and/or distributing everyday, garden-variety weed. So this could lead to a floodgate of people being released. In many towns prison is considered big business. This article details some of the unexpectedly big profits that the detention industry yields.
It will likely be six months to a year before we can see any verifiable statistics on how the legalization of marijuana has affected society and our lifestyles. One thing is for sure, the state of Colorado and its residents can expect an increase of revenue from tourism if other states do not follow suit.