Legal cannabis and homelessness are two hot-button issues in Denver, and the two came to a head on Monday, December 11, during a meeting of the Marijuana Committee of Denver City Council, where experts explained that, for the most part, the data just isn't there to prove a connection between legal cannabis and homelessness.
In his presentation, University of Denver professor Donald Burnes referenced a 2017 Metro Denver Homeless Initiative study that showed Denver hasn't seen an increase of homeless people whose last established residence was outside of Colorado since legal sales of recreational marijuana began. And that brings up a question from Heather:
What about the causes of homelessness before legalization?
Cyndie has another idea:
Cost of living is exorbitant. I don't think most people checked into housing prices before they came here. We are considered upper-middle class and can't afford to live here. It doesn't have anything to do with marijuana, just no affordable housing options for people....
But Greg suggests:
Take a walk down the 16th Street Mall. That's all the "data" you need.
16th Street Mall is time times nicer than before legalization.
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As a formerly homeless person who came to Denver specifically because of the dispensaries, I could speculate that others do as well. I don't think it's a valid conclusion that pot causes homelessness, but it probably does have an appeal and attracts homeless people to venture out here. As it did with me.
Every desirable city is struggling with homelessness and a real estate bubble. Blame the government for not letting the market correct ten years ago. Saying weed attracts the homeless is about as valid as saying the beautiful mountains are to blame.
Keep reading for more of our coverage of homelessness in Denver.
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For years, the myth has swirled that people moving here for marijuana has caused the spike in rental rates and the shortage of affordable housing...but so far, no data backs that up.
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