When something massive happens to a community, it’s our immediate desire to know how that behemoth happening impacts said community — and if we could have real-time updates (via social media and push notifications) on that societal change, that’d be great, thanks.
And so as Colorado wraps up its sixth month of legal recreational marijuana sales, we at The Cannabist are looking back at those six months to see what we’ve gleaned in that intensely brief amount of time.
Six Months In:
A special report from The Cannabist
Some of what we’ve learned is concrete — hard numbers regarding medical sales, recreational taxes and more. More often what we’ve learned resembles puzzle pieces — statistics that show how we’ve interacted with this newly legal plant, so far. Some of these findings are telling; others are too brief and short-lived to point toward anything real or permanent.
So what do we really know after six months of legal recreational marijuana sales in Colorado?
Here are the absolutes, the facts, the hard numbers we know after the first six months of legal recreational cannabis sales in the modern world. Some of these numbers, including tax revenues, mean something tangible and allow us to plan for the future. Some of these numbers, like crime stats, are interesting but incomplete, given the many factors that contribute to citywide crime.
Together these numbers begin to paint a picture of what we’ve already seen and what is yet to come.
1. Recreational marijuana sales in Colorado: $69,527,760 (from Jan. 1-April 30, extrapolated from tax figures)
2. Medical marijuana sales in Colorado: $132,950,930 (from Jan. 1-April 30, extrapolated from tax figures)
(Yep, recreational and medical cannabis sales in the first four months of 2014 equaled $202,478,690.)
3. Recreational marijuana taxes in Colorado excluding fees/licensing: $10,896,143 (from Jan. 1-April 30)
4. Medical marijuana taxes and fees/licensing in Colorado: $6,522,735 (from Jan. 1-April 30)
5. State grants dedicated to research and clinical trials: $9 million, given by the Colorado health department in the next five years to researchers for marijuana studies — the largest state-funded effort to study the medical benefits of cannabis.
6. Crime in the city of Denver: 1,453 burglaries and 336 robberies (from Jan. 1-April 30, 2014), according to Denver Police — down from 1,527 burglaries and 352 robberies during the same period in 2013. Violent and property crimes are down in Denver since the start of recreational marijuana sales as well.
7. Crime at Denver’s licensed marijuana stores and cultivation facilities: 53 burglaries and one robbery (from Jan. 1-May 31) at the city’s more than 700 licensed marijuana stores and cultivation facilities, putting the city on pace for about 130 burglaries and robberies by year’s end. In 2013, there were 147 burglaries and four robberies, according to Safety Department data. In 2012, there were 170 burglaries and three robberies.
8. Arrests for drug violations in Denver: 865 so far in 2014, which is up from 711 during the same time in 2013.
9. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration grant to Colorado for anti-stoned driving campaign and officer training: $400,000
10. The number of people licensed by the state to work in the marijuana industry: 9,641 (as of May 1), “about the same number of Coloradans employed as law-enforcement officers,” according to this smart Politico piece.