Article by , Forbes
A growing number of states have legalized marijuana, but not every municipality within the confines of these progressive governments has been eager to get involved with the cannabis trade. In the eight states that have legalized the leaf for recreational use, several local jurisdictions have opted to keep their streets free of legitimate pot commerce.
Most of the naysayers are smaller cities, convinced that legal cannabis businesses might bring about increased crime and otherwise threaten their Mayberry way of life. But this attitude is misguided, according to a new report. It turns out that it the presence of marijuana operations is especially generous with respect to strengthening local economies. More importantly, this area of commerce pays for itself, creating jobs and security without sacrificing the infrastructure required to ensure public safety.
When Colorado moved to legalize recreational marijuana in 2012, some folks were concerned that bringing the herb out of the underground might breed a heathenous uprising. Although the majority of the voters supported this reform at the polls, plenty of the people were still skeptical that legal marijuana would be good for all.
But for cities like Pueblo, which has a population of around 100,000, legal weed was a welcomed addition. Similar to other municipalities devastated by the collapse of the steel industry, Pueblo struggled for years to keep from drowning in a pool of destitution and downtrodden. In fact, until the cannabis industry was launched in 2014, the city’s primary employers consisted of only prisons and local hospitals. It also had one the highest unemployment rates in the state – several points lower than the state average.
But fortunately, the struggle is over.
Researchers at Colorado State University-Pueblo say the cannabis industry has been a salvation’s wing for Pueblo County. Their study, which was a collaborative effort alongside the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, the Colorado Department of Agriculture, and the Industrial Hemp Research Foundation, shows that legal weed struck an economic chord to the tune of around $58 million in 2016.