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Skeptical Coloradans Beginning to See the Light on Legal Marijuana

Jesse Phillips celebrates being the first person to legally buy recreational marijuana (in his left hand) at the BotanaCare store in Northglenn, Colorado, on Jan. 1, 2014.
Jesse Phillips celebrates being the first person to legally buy recreational marijuana (in his left hand) at the BotanaCare store in Northglenn, Colorado, on Jan. 1, 2014. (Rick Wilking/Reuters)

Politics

Skeptical Coloradans Beginning to See the Light on Legal Marijuana

Coloradans are beginning to see the benefits from cannabis legalization—and they like them.

According to a recent report by Public Policy Polling: two months after recreational sales began in Colorado, legalization is more popular than ever in state.

Fifty-seven percent of residents now believe marijuana should be legal, while only 35 percent believe it should illegal. This 22-point gap represents a sizable spike in the 16 months since the law passed, increasing from only a 10-point margin.

The study also notes the state is evenly divided three ways when it comes to whether marijuana has made the state better. Thirty-one percent say better, 33 percent say worse and 30 percent do not see a change either way.

“It’s obvious that as people see the concrete benefits of legalizing marijuana with their own eyes, support will continue to go up,” said Marijuana Majority’s Tom Angell in a Huffington post recent article.

These benefits are numerous and growing, from the large and obvious, like an increase in employment; Colorado recently hosted the first cannabis industry job fair and has made $14 million in recreational marijuana sales in January alone, generating $2 million in tax revenue.

There are less obvious benefits as well, like a decrease in harmful alcohol consumption which could lead to higher public health and lower traffic fatalities. The beginning of hemp production as an industrial crop and even a jump in tourism is bringing more money into the state from outside Colorado.

Alaska, Vermont, Maine, Oregon and several other states may be seeing the benefits of regulating marijuana soon as advocates are planning to put legal marijuana on upcoming ballots.

Other interesting notes from the study: Colorado would vote for Hillary Clinton over Rand Paul, Jeb Bush, Ted Cruz, Mike Huckabee or Chris Christie in the next election although the state is nearly evenly divided between Republican and Democrats, as well as approval of same sex-marriage rising slightly. When the PPP polled in 2012, 53 percent of Colorado voters said same sex marriage should be legal and 40 percent say it should be illegal, today it stands at 56 percent and 36 percent.

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