When the Supreme Court refused to hear a lawsuit filed by Nebraska and Oklahoma accusing their neighboring state, Colorado, of being a cannabis cartel, heavy sighs of relief ensued. The highest court in the land, populated by authoritarians such as Clarence Thomas, tried to strike a serious blow to Colorado’s experiment with freedom and medical advancement.

Perhaps the six rational justices who rejected the suit sensed the positive momentum being brought by this billion dollar industry. Thanks to the legalization of both recreational and medicinal use of cannabis, the state is enjoying a tremendous economic boost. Sales from licensed stores totaled almost $1 billion last year, nearly equaling craft beer sales.

While it resulted in $135 million in taxes and fees for the state of Colorado, more importantly, it is proving to be a job engine — which is the best form of economic stimulus. This chart demonstrates just how much job growth the cannabis industry is providing in Colorado.


“As of December 2015, the state had issued 26,929 occupational licenses to workers employed at medical and recreational cannabis companies – a whopping 68% increase from December 2014, according to data provided by the Colorado Department of Revenue.

At the end of 2013, when only medical marijuana businesses existed (the rec industry launched in 2014), there were less than 7,000 occupational licensees in the state.”

The 2015 figure does not account for those involved in the industry that don’t need to get a license, meaning the actual job growth is likely much higher.

The 68 percent job growth in a year reflects the 40 percent increase in sales during the same time, with all signs pointing to a steady upward trend. There is now a Marijuana Business Factbook published by Marijuana Business Daily, which projects sales to grow another 10-30 percent in 2016.

With so many people working and stimulating the economy through cannabis, what does it say about the “laziness” cliche? Other assumptions are being challenged by Colorado’s legalization, such as the myth of increased teen cannabis use or the equivocation of driving drunk with driving high. Teen use has dropped while DUI and crime rates have fallen too.

All of those “lazy” people are fueling a skyrocketing industry during a time of otherwise sluggish economic growth nationwide. The new cannabis frontier is encouraging creative young entrepreneurs to strike out and find their niche. It is stimulating the medical field to find more and more ways of using this miraculous plant to heal human ailments.

And all of this because cops simply stopped kidnapping, caging, and killing people for possessing this plant. Isn’t it amazing what freedom can do?

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Justin Gardner is a peaceful free-thinker with a background in the biological sciences. He is interested in bringing rationality back into the national discourse, and independent journalism as a challenge to the status quo.