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Is Legalized Marijuana in Colorado ‘Working’? — Yes & No

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As Washington state inches… slowly… toward open marijuana dispensaries, Colorado’s pot industry is growing at breakneck speeds. But is the new system “working”? Meaning, is it shutting down the black market for weed? Is it raising money for the state? Recent news reports suggest the answer is: yes and no.

With a medical marijuana card, a Colorado resident can buy an ounce of pot for about $200. At a regular dispensary, the price is as high as $400 an ounce. But on the black market an ounce is still as low as around $50.

Some journalists are reporting many residents can’t afford the full retail price, and don’t want to join a registry to get a medical marijuana card. This is keeping the black market alive and thriving.

Attempts to predict tax revenue from the sale of marijuana say as much as $100 million a year may be collected for Colorado’s coffers. Alcohol taxes bring in half that and tobacco taxes are only a little more. Brisk sales and high taxes have state bureaucrats optimistic.

However, that does not take into consideration state costs. Monitoring grow operations, retail stores and cracking down on the black market are all expensive services. In contrast, monitoring tobacco retail requires no interference in the growing, harvesting, storing and wholesale of the product.

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