Marijuana plants grow in full sun in Pueblo County on Sept. 3, 2016. Pueblo County is one of the few places in Colorado that allows for outdoor commercial cannabis cultivation, such as Los Sueños Farms LLC. The 36 acres that make up Los Sueños Farms are leased to a number of Colorado cannabis businesses. (Vince Chandler, The Denver Post)

To boost its economy, one Colorado county embraced marijuana. Did it work?

In a groundbreaking new study, a report released Monday from researchers at Colorado State University-Pueblo finds that the marijuana industry provides a net positive economic benefit to Pueblo County, even when accounting for demands on law enforcement and social services.

The report estimates that the marijuana industry had an economic impact of more than $58 million in the county in 2016, while leading to added costs of roughly $23 million — resulting in a more than $35 million positive net impact. The report estimates that, in the most likely scenario, that net impact will rise to nearly $100 million a year by 2021.

Related: 600 Colorado college students to get funds in year three of unique cannabis tax scholarship

Meanwhile, the report — which runs to more than 200 pages in length and examines trends in revenue, construction, marijuana use, homelessness, crime, environmental impact and other topics — finds little conclusive evidence to support arguments that marijuana legalization has caused widespread social change in the county. The report, for instance, notes anecdotes that marijuana legalization has led to higher in-migration and homelessness in the county, but ultimately concludes that data do not, at least yet, provide support for those perceptions.

“We found no evidence that poverty has either increased or decreased in Pueblo as a result of cannabis legalization,” the report’s authors write. To Pueblo County Commissioner Sal Pace, long an advocate for the economic benefit of the cannabis industry in Pueblo, the report is a validation of the county’s efforts.

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