Dear Stoner: I heard Oregon just enacted recreational legalization. Alaska and D.C. both have, too, and we already know about Washington. Will potheads keep flocking to Denver after more states legalize weed?
Dear Kramer: We won’t know until the day comes, but as more parts of the country open their arms to the marijuana industry, it only stands to reason that we’ll lose some of the stoners who flocked to Colorado over the past eighteen months (and not everyone here would be mad about it, either). While you’re right that Alaska, Oregon and Washington, D.C., have all legalized some form of recreational marijuana use and possession, none of them have a regulated adult-use market yet, making home grows and the black market the primary sources for cannabis — and we all know that’s not as fun as buying herb from a legal shop. Alaska won’t begin reviewing commercial marijuana applications until the end of the year, and Oregon adult-use shops aren’t expected to open until the fall of 2016. Washington, D.C., doesn’t even have a commercial regulatory framework in place, meaning the only way to score herb there for the foreseeable future is to grow it yourself or befriend someone who does. All that aside, Washington State might be in line for the title of pot capital: In its first year of sales, it took in around $65 million of retail marijuana tax revenue, compared to Colorado’s near-$44 million.
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Even with the competition to the northwest, there still isn’t much to worry about in terms of tourism and the stoner community. As funky as Portland and Seattle are for Deadheads, the sun rarely comes out up there, and neither Oregon nor Washington can offer the range of mountainous experiences that Colorado does. Until Vermont or Utah legalizes recreational cannabis, the great outdoors/great pot combination this state offers is one of a kind. The real threat to every state hoping to stake a claim in the pot world is California, where a recreational measure is expected to be on the ballot in 2016. Despite only having a medical industry right now, California remains the largest market for taxable marijuana by far, according to the Marijuana Business Factbook, an annual report on the legal cannabis industry.
Economic consumer-report group NerdWallet says that if marijuana became legal for adult use, California could generate $519 million in new tax revenue each year. With such a powerful pot culture already in place and plenty of attractive people, sunshine and self-gratification, it wouldn’t be surprising if California gobbled up some of Colorado’s pot business — and the groupies who came with it.
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