When marijuana reformers push for the legalization of herb, we often point out the direct fiscal benefits, like the tax money that can be raised, the law enforcement money that can be saved, and the jobs created in the marijuana industry. Now we are beginning to see the indicators of the indirect fiscal benefit from legalization.
We heard reports of the $2.1 million raised in recreational marijuana taxes from $14 million worth of product sold in January. Now the Denver Post reports that the tax revenue may be so far above expectations they may have to give some of it back. Colorado’s TABOR (Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights) mandates that excess tax collections must be refunded to the people
Colorado’s universities are reporting a spike in enrollment, with University of Colorado seeing a 30% increase in applications and Denver University experiencing an 81% increase over five years. This is happening as the National Student Clearinghouse reports a nationwide drop in college enrollments over the past two years.
College “Spring Breakers” are now flocking to Colorado. According to an analysis by Priceline.com, Denver trails only Las Vegas and New Orleans in being booked for Spring Break by people with .edu (college) email addresses. Denver is more popular than traditional Spring Break locales Fort Lauderdale, Florida; South Padre Island, Texas; and Cancun, Mexico.
Colorado pot shops still report that about half of the IDs they check are from out-of-state, despite the lack of most anywhere for a tourist to smoke pot legally. Public consumption is banned and almost all hotels are non-smoking. But Rich Grant, spokesman for Denver’s visitor and convention bureau, says he’s heard of hotel guests asking about the fine for smoking in a non-smoking room, then paying the $250 up front.
Then there are the upwards of 300 families who have moved or are moving to Colorado to access lifesaving CBD oil for their epileptic children. They are probably a fraction of the people who have emigrated to Colorado, many of whom are patients with PTSD and other conditions not covered by most states’ medical laws (including Colorado’s), but who can access legal marijuana.
Despite all these obvious indicators of legalization immigration and toker tourism, Grant still says “we’ll probably never really be able to tell” whether marijuana’s legality is attracting all these out-of-towners, like Doug Drumm of Syracuse, New York, who told Denver’s Fox 31, that prior to legalization, “We would never have stopped in Denver. We wouldn’t have stopped here to eat, we wouldn’t have stopped here for anything.”
Grant says the forthcoming HIGH TIMES Cannabis Cup in Denver on 4/20 may provide definitive proof of the power of pot to draw tourists. April 20th is also Easter Sunday, typically a very slow day for hotels. “If downtown is sold out on Easter Sunday,” Grant said, “you would have to say something was going on.”