USA: Colorado Cannabis Cash Crunch – Post Pandemic Downturn

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A cash crunch for Colorado’s pot trade (EDITORIAL)

Aug 14, 2022

There was more bad news for Big Marijuana in Colorado last week. As reported in The Gazette, Coloradans as well as “pot tourists” visiting the state appear to be spending nowhere near as much on marijuana products as they did at the height of the pandemic. That’s the upshot of the latest pot sales stats released by the Colorado Department of Revenue – and it reflects a continued, months-long decline in legal retail marijuana sales statewide.

Perhaps the erosion of the marijuana market should come as no surprise. In post-pandemic Colorado, people no longer have reason to feel confined to their homes or cut off from entertainment. Other, healthier pastimes once again can compete for their recreation dollars, so pot users inevitably spend less time – and money – just sitting around getting high.

Whatever the reason, we’ll take it. What’s bad news for the legalized pot industry is good news for Colorado.

Yes, it comes with a downside – declining tax revenue to fund some state and local human-services programs. But then that’s a potent reminder to policy makers at all levels of government not to force vital public services to rely on such a dubious revenue source.

If Colorado’s ongoing experiment with legal retail pot has taught us anything, it is that its market is unstable even as its toll on all society grows. After taking in the ill effects of legalized recreational sales – from a dramatic spike in traffic fatalities to a surge in mental health crises among youth – Coloradans’ recent inclination to spend their wages on more essential things is laudable and just plain sensible. All the more so as spiraling inflation eats into their paychecks.

Legalized pot’s rippling consequences for Colorado bear repeating.

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An analysis of 26,000 impaired-driving cases in Colorado in 2019 showed 45% of drivers tested positive for more than one substance, according to the state’s Division of Criminal Justice. The most common combination was alcohol and pot. Consider that in light of some other sobering statistics: Fatalities on Colorado roads have soared 50% since 2011, according to the Colorado Department of Transportation, and over a third of those involved drivers impaired by alcohol, drugs or both. Just since 2019, there has been a 44% increase in the number of fatalities in Colorado involving an impaired driver, according to state data.

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