Marijuana Leglization

Marijuana’s Impact in Colorado

Marijuana's Impact

Marijuana’s Impact in Colorado could not have been anticipated. This month marks the fifth anniversary of the passage of Amendment 64, which legalized recreational marijuana for adult use in the Centennial State. Here’s a holistic look at where Colorado’s burgeoning cannabis scene is, five years in—and where it might be headed.

Marijuana’s Impact on Industrial real estate prices. As the demand for space for indoor grows, well, grew in Denver, so did industrial real estate prices—from about $40 per square foot in 2014 to more than $80 in 2015. Between 2010 and 2015, rental rates also jumped by about $2 per square foot. That’s good news for Colorado’s economy and for landlords who are able to charge a premium for the spaces. But the folks living in neighborhoods with a high concentration of warehouses—like those in north Denver and off of Santa Fe Drive—had to deal with an increase in pot’s skunky smell. The city has tried to address this by capping the number of indoor cultivations and retail stores it will allow (that figure is still TBD) and by imposing stricter zoning and odor regulations.

The edible explosion. While weed-infused gummies, pot-laced cookies, and marijuana sodas made up only about six percent of the medical marijuana market in 2014, they accounted for nearly 15 percent of the recreational market. “Edibles took off immediately in a way we did not anticipate,” says Joe Hodas, chief marketing officer for Dixie Brands. “We had a period of several months where we were always on back order.” The expansion of the edible market brought with it concerns about food safety and, thus, a tightening of regulations regarding testing for potency, microbials, solvents, heavy metals, and pesticides.

Pueblo becomes a cannabis capital. This former steel town is now one of the largest cannabis-growing regions outside of Denver, a surprising fact given that Pueblo’s nearest sizable neighbor (Colorado Springs) banned recreational marijuana stores in 2013. But the warm, dry climate in Pueblo—the first Colorado town to allow outdoor grows—makes it a more viable option for open-air and greenhouse cultivation, both far cheaper than indoor grow operations. Add to that Pueblo’s affordability and a city government that’s actively courting cannabis dollars, and you’ve got an equation that might just add up to Pueblo surpassing Denver as the grow capital of Colorado.

Marijuana’s Impact on job growth. Of the more than 18,000 jobs the Marijuana Policy Group (MPG) estimates the recreational cannabis industry added to Colorado’s economy through 2015, roughly a third have been with companies that never actually touch the plant. Think accountants, attorneys, HVAC installers, and public relations firms. These ancillary businesses contribute, in part, to the MPG’s estimation that cannabis has nearly the same economic impact in Colorado as the federal government. We chart the ever-expanding universe of business sectors cannabis supports.

Excerpts from original article BY  for and published in 5280.

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