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Denver ‘Having Success’ Regulating Legal Marijuana, Mayor Says

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Denver Mayor Michael Hancock (D) campaigned against Colorado’s marijuana legalization measure in 2012. But he now admits that in the years since voters ignored his advice and ended prohibition anyway, the city has been able to effectively regulate the cannabis industry in a way that creates jobs and generates tax revenue.

On Thursday, the Denver officials released a progress report tracking the impact of legalization to date.

“This new report demonstrates Denver’s coordinated approach between multiple agencies to manage marijuana is working,” Hancock said in a press release. “We took on the daunting challenge of becoming the first major city in America to manage legalized recreational marijuana and we are having success.”

Findings from the new report include:

  • Retailers in the city sold $584 million worth of medical and recreational marijuana products in 2017.

Denver marijuana sales

  • The city took in $44.7 million in cannabis tax revenue last year, an annual increase of 20%.

Denver marijuana tax revenue

  • There are now more than 1,100 licensed marijuana businesses in Denver.

Licensed marijuana businesses in Denver

  • Marijuana industry-related crime represented less than ½ of 1% of overall crime in the city. 82% of that stemmed from attempted burglaries or thefts from cannabis businesses.

The full report has a lot more datapoints and graphs.

Meanwhile, a state-funded report released this month found that Colorado’s overall “licensed, regulated commercial marketplace is working well,” the executive director of the Colorado Department of Revenue said.

While Hancock, the Denver mayor, opposed legalization six years ago, he is now leading a nationwide coalition of local officials to push the federal government to modernize its approach to cannabis.

This piece was first published by Forbes.

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Tom Angell is the editor of Marijuana Moment. A 20-year veteran in the cannabis law reform movement, he covers the policy and politics of marijuana. Separately, he founded the nonprofit Marijuana Majority. Previously he reported for Marijuana.com and MassRoots, and handled media relations and campaigns for Law Enforcement Against Prohibition and Students for Sensible Drug Policy.

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