The Centennial Institute at Colorado Christian University commissioned this study to better understand the economic and social costs of legalized marijuana. While much has been written about the tax revenue and total sales generated from commercial marijuana, there has been little research to understand how Coloradans are paying to mitigate the consequences of commercial marijuana.
No matter where you stand in the marijuana legalization debate, having more information is critical to making the best decisions for the future of Colorado and our nation. This report is an important first step in giving researchers and policymakers a sense of the breadth of costs associated with commercial marijuana. Furthermore, it’s clear from the report that much more information is needed to fully understand the social costs associated with commercial marijuana.
The bad news is that the costs associated with commercial marijuana are only going to go up as the long-term health consequences have not been fully determined. Like tobacco, commercial marijuana is likely to have health consequences that we won’t be able to determine for decades. Those costs are not configured in this report.
This report is fair in presenting the economic benefits of commercial marijuana to Colorado including reporting tax revenue, jobs, and overall sales. It is contrasted with the economic and social costs of commercial marijuana, which took a very cautious approach in determining costs. Bottom line, the economic and social costs in this report are intentionally low and the comprehensive costs are likely much higher.
Here are the important findings from this report:
The researchers felt strongly that Colorado needs to have an important conversation about the presence of THC in fatal car crashes and suicide and they included these numbers in the report without attaching a monitory value to the loss of life. They pointed out that these are preventable deaths and if we’re serious about stopping THC-related car crashes and suicides, we need to explore these issues further.
The research firm used to create the report is QREM, a third-party evaluation firm serving non-profits and many of Colorado’s most reputable foundations.
We hope this report spurs further research into the effects of commercial marijuana upon our communities.
Vice President of Public Policy, Colorado Christian University
Director, Centennial Institute