A Tale Of Two States – Colorado vs Washington After Legalization

medical marijuana

In November of 2012, two states, Colorado and Washington legalized cannabis for recreational use for adults. Since that fateful day, the states have taken different paths in the implementation of those laws. Colorado moved relatively swiftly, and had their regulatory and other government oversight systems in place quickly and on January 1st of 2014, the 1st of many legal “pot shops” opened up to fanfare and booming business that even exceeded Colorado’s optimistic forecasts.

Washington, on the other hand, took a seemingly more measured approach.  And as it stands today, on July 1st of 2014, Washington has no outlets to provide safe, taxable and regulated legal marijuana to the people.  And it is not for a lack of trying by the people and business interests. Indeed, thousands of applications have been submitted for legal farming and retail. People have invested millions in businesses only to see them hemorrhage money as Washington drags their feet and under-resources departments charged with handling the transition.

For example, over 2,600 applications were sent to the Washington State regulators for grow licenses. Those applications are being handled by a self admittedly “swamped” board of a mere 18 people. Of those, about 80 have been approved so far. Most haven’t even been looked at.  And at this point, some of those people have lost out now on 2 summer growing seasons.  Of course, all these increased business expenses will surely be passed down to the consumer, which might further hurt Washington’s viability compared to Colorado, who has had positive results in just 6 months of regulated / taxed pot. For example:

 

I haven’t checked the numbers on Doritos and cookie sales, but I’m going to go out on a limb and say they are up as well. As is tourism and other economy friendly factors.

Of course, in BOTH states, citizens there have something greater than any business success or tax revenue increase … freedom.

And this is real freedom. The freedom for a free thinking adult to choose to do to themselves what they want, without fear of government punishing them. Of course that right isn’t unlimited and has what many would call reasonable limits. Namely, limits on possession amounts, laws against operating vehicles while impaired and other limitations designed to create a balance. But they are free to partake in or use marijuana for personal purposes without fear of the Gestapo breaking down their doors. But unfortunately for the people of Washington, that freedom currently carries no benefit to the State, which was part of the equation.  Indeed, the State of Washington is failing its people so far in this experimental journey.

But of course, this foot dragging and under staffing is not insurmountable. Washington has the means to better staff and fast track the business side of it, if it wishes, and if the people demand it, which they should. Because as it stands now, just like before these reforms, the State of Washington and the people are getting cheated out of their cut.