Weed’s Value in Economic Development


Source: Marijuana Policy Group, “The Economic Impact of Marijuana Legalization in Colorado”

Proponents of marijuana legalization often cite its potential to boost states’ tax revenue. It’s an argument that the Foundation finds compelling, as Errors of Enchantment has noted before.

But a new report on the economics of the pot industry in our neighbor to the north supplies another justification: economic development.

The Marijuana Policy Group, a “collaborative effort between researchers from the University of Colorado Boulder Business Research Division and BBC Research & Consulting in Denver,” has crafted “the world’s first marijuana economic impact model,” with the goal of helping Colorado “voters, policymakers, and regulators understand how … legalization impacts the state economy.”

Some of the MPG’s findings:

* With the market — at least for now — totally under the control of the state, nearly “all spending on marijuana flows to workers and businesses within the state.”

* As the above chart indicates, in 2015, legal marijuana supported 18,005 direct, indirect, and induced full-time equivalent jobs in Colorado.

* While workers in retailing “have relatively low average wages and few fringe benefits,” more than 75 percent of industry employment is in other fields, including management, manufacturing, and agriculture specialties.

* Ancillary job-creation is on the rise as the industry matures and boosts demand for “law firms, consultancies, and … professional service providers.”

* In 2015, sales “grew by 42.4 percent, to $996 million.”

Here’s the full analysis. Definitely worth a careful perusal by all working to revive New Mexico’s moribund economy.

If marijuana legalization is inevitable, why not be an “early adopter” — and reap both the fiscal and economic benefits?

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6 Replies to “Weed’s Value in Economic Development”

  1. How much of the Colorado business is due to their early adoption amidst wider prohibition? If marijuana were legal nationwide, would the economic impact as described above be smaller per state – or would the market for weed grow to fill state coffers everywhere at a similar rate? My guess – at least for the short term – is the former…meaning every year NM tarries, the potential proceeds diminish.

    1. I tend to agree with you Steve. Much like another “sin” industry, gambling, there is an “early-mover” advantage.

  2. Can you please post the effects marijuana legalization has on society (i.e. drug abuse, etc.)? This is one of the main concerns people have when considering this proposal. I think it is important to always highlight both when discussing it.

  3. With the the people in charge of New Mexico State medical cannabis program, not having their ducks in a row as far as patient growth or even solidifing production or the safe access throughout the state- This would be great for the economy however what impact would it have on the sick patients of New Mexico and the retention of the medical cannabis program? I don’t believe it’s written into this Legalization Bill such as other States.

    1. Yes, a legalization bill would potentially alter market dynamics relating to the medical program. I am not sure how that would happen, but the Legislature could add in specific protections/regulations relating to medical mj patients. It’s not really the focus of our efforts so it is not something I focus on.

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