Nearly two dozen states have legalized marijuana for medical use; four states now allow the sale of recreational cannabis to adults – and many more states are considering doing the same. Nevada already has a measure that would legalize pot on its November ballot, California is in the process of crafting its own initiative, and Vermont's governor may allow legislators to make the move without even taking a vote to the people.
But still, Colorado was the first place in the country with stores that actually sold legal marijuana, and as a result, people are forever looking here for an idea of what will happen if pot is legalized in their own states. “It is the elephant in the room,” says Cathy Ritter, the new state tourism head who moved here from Illinois. “Everyone does want to know about the impact of marijuana in Colorado.”
In fact, last week I was in San Diego talking to an Urban Land Institute group about exactly that, and was reminded exactly how cannabis-curious people are about Colorado. So In the interest of saving time, future travel expenses and the effort required to debunk those omnipresent marijuana myths, here's a handy list of the top ten things you can expect once marijuana is legalized where you live.
All aboard Colorado Cannabis tours.
10. When you tell people outside of your state where you are from, the first – and perhaps only – thing they will want to talk about is marijuana.
9. Warehouses in the least desirable parts of town – and in the state's least desirable towns – will suddenly look very attractive to ganjapreneurs looking for places to grow marijuana.
Denver cops crack down on a skunky-smelling warehouse.
8. These parts of town will suddenly start smelling rather skunky.
7. Wary publishers will think twice about mailing out-of-state any publications that contain advertising for marijuana businesses: Remember, the Postal Service is a federal agency (if one that moves slower than an excessive cannabis consumer).
6. You will never look at a brownie again without asking if it is “special.”
Never take unwrapped candy — with or without pot.
5. Exactly zero children will be given pot edibles when they are trick-or-treating.
4. Once teenagers see their parents with pot, they will suddenly realize that marijuana is not cool...and their parents will realize it's time to update the Cheech and Chong lingo.
3. You will hear a lot of jokes about your state on late-night television. (Granted, comics had a head start with “Rocky Mountain High” Colorado.)
Stephen Colbert riffed on Potsylvania.
2. While boosters may downplay the effect that legalized marijuana has on tourism, you will suddenly hear from college friends and relatives who haven't connected with you in years and now suddenly want to drop by for a visit...and maybe a tour of local pot shops?
1. Within a few months of legalization, longtime residents – meaning anyone who moved to your state within the past three years – will be blaming pot for inspiring everyone else to move there, too.
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Those accusations have certainly surfaced in Colorado, though no one has yet come up with proof that pot is responsible for the influx of transplants. After all, it's not like there aren't plenty of other reasons to move here; people have been finding them for more than 150 years.