Colorado passes $1 billion in marijuana revenue since 2014

That's only counting revenues from taxes, fees, and licenses.

Colorado passes $1 billion in marijuana revenue since 2014

Photo credit: Carlos Osorio
/ Getty contributor
  • Colorado's Department of Revenue announced last week that the recreational marijuana industry has generated more than $1 billion in revenues from a total of $6.56 billion in sales.
  • Legalization remains a controversial issue in Colorado, where only 55% of residents voted to legalize recreational marijuana in 2012.
  • Ten U.S. states and the District of Columbia have legalized recreational marijuana, with Illinois set to legalize it in 2020.

Colorado has earned more than $1 billion in revenue since legalizing recreational marijuana in 2014, the state's Department of Revenue announced last week. That revenue — which comes from taxes, licenses, and fees — helps fund public education programs and health services throughout the state.

"[The marijuana] industry is helping grow our economy by creating jobs and generating valuable revenue that is going towards preventing youth consumption, protecting public health and safety and investing in public school construction," Governor Jared Polis said in a statement.

Colorado currently has nearly 3,000 licensed marijuana businesses, which have sold a total of $6.56 billion in marijuana products since January 2014. The state's marijuana laws are still evolving. Last month, Polis signed two bills that legalized cannabis delivery services and social-use areas, which will be "kind of like cigar lounges, which also help get the smell out of neighborhoods," the governor wrote on Facebook.

"Today's report continues to show that Colorado's cannabis industry is thriving, but we can't rest on our laurels," the governor said on Wednesday. "We can and we must do better in the face of increased national competition. We want Colorado to be the best state for investment, innovation, and development for this growing economic sector."

​Legalization remains controversial

Although Colorado's Amendment 64 is clearly a fiscal success, not all residents like legalization. After all, 45 percent of Colorado voters voted against the amendment in 2012, and today about 200 municipalities have outlawed pot retail shops, even though possession remains legal.

One main concern is kids using marijuana. Although studies suggest usage rates among Colorado teenagers haven't significantly increased since legalization, some experts have expressed concern about how marijuana is affecting teenagers' mental health.

"Horrible things are happening to kids," Libby Stuyt, a psychiatrist who treats teens in southwestern Colorado and has studied the health impacts of high-potency marijuana, told The Washington Post, which reported that visits to Children's Hospital Colorado facilities for paranoia, psychosis, and other "acute cannabis-related symptoms" jumped from 161 in 2005 to 777 in 2015, in the Denver area.

"I see increased problems with psychosis, with addiction, with suicide, with depression and anxiety," Stuyt said.

What explains this (potential) increase in mental health problems among young cannabis consumers? One explanation is potency. The legal marijuana products available today are, on average, much stronger than, say, the pot Americans smoked in the 1970s. What's more, people are consuming highly potent pot in different ways; one popular example is smoking hash oil from an oil rig.

Studies have established that consuming cannabis can damage a young person's brain. But that doesn't necessarily mean that fighting legalization is what's going to best protect kids.

"[Colorado's legal pot industry is] in many ways stamping out a black market that doesn't care whether they sell to kids," Colorado state Rep. Jonathan Singer, a Democrat from the community of Longmont, said in an interview.

Still, some argue that Americans need to fully realize just how potent today's marijuana is, and the psychological damage it might be inflicting upon us.

"We are holding on to a construct of marijuana which today is antiquated," Ben Cort, a drug-treatment consultant, recently told students at Olathe Middle and High School, as reported by The Washington Post. "Ten years from now, there's going to be a reckoning."

Ten U.S. states and the District of Columbia have legalized recreational marijuana, with Illinois set to legalize it in 2020.

U.S. Navy controls inventions that claim to change "fabric of reality"

Inventions with revolutionary potential made by a mysterious aerospace engineer for the U.S. Navy come to light.

U.S. Navy ships

Credit: Getty Images
Surprising Science
  • U.S. Navy holds patents for enigmatic inventions by aerospace engineer Dr. Salvatore Pais.
  • Pais came up with technology that can "engineer" reality, devising an ultrafast craft, a fusion reactor, and more.
  • While mostly theoretical at this point, the inventions could transform energy, space, and military sectors.
Keep reading Show less

Why so gassy? Mysterious methane detected on Saturn’s moon

Scientists do not know what is causing the overabundance of the gas.

An impression of NASA's Cassini spacecraft flying through a water plume on the surface of Saturn's moon Enceladus.

Credit: NASA
Surprising Science
  • A new study looked to understand the source of methane on Saturn's moon Enceladus.
  • The scientists used computer models with data from the Cassini spacecraft.
  • The explanation could lie in alien organisms or non-biological processes.
Keep reading Show less

CRISPR therapy cures first genetic disorder inside the body

It marks a breakthrough in using gene editing to treat diseases.

Credit: National Cancer Institute via Unsplash
Technology & Innovation

This article was originally published by our sister site, Freethink.

For the first time, researchers appear to have effectively treated a genetic disorder by directly injecting a CRISPR therapy into patients' bloodstreams — overcoming one of the biggest hurdles to curing diseases with the gene editing technology.

The therapy appears to be astonishingly effective, editing nearly every cell in the liver to stop a disease-causing mutation.

The challenge: CRISPR gives us the ability to correct genetic mutations, and given that such mutations are responsible for more than 6,000 human diseases, the tech has the potential to dramatically improve human health.

One way to use CRISPR to treat diseases is to remove affected cells from a patient, edit out the mutation in the lab, and place the cells back in the body to replicate — that's how one team functionally cured people with the blood disorder sickle cell anemia, editing and then infusing bone marrow cells.

Bone marrow is a special case, though, and many mutations cause disease in organs that are harder to fix.

Another option is to insert the CRISPR system itself into the body so that it can make edits directly in the affected organs (that's only been attempted once, in an ongoing study in which people had a CRISPR therapy injected into their eyes to treat a rare vision disorder).

Injecting a CRISPR therapy right into the bloodstream has been a problem, though, because the therapy has to find the right cells to edit. An inherited mutation will be in the DNA of every cell of your body, but if it only causes disease in the liver, you don't want your therapy being used up in the pancreas or kidneys.

A new CRISPR therapy: Now, researchers from Intellia Therapeutics and Regeneron Pharmaceuticals have demonstrated for the first time that a CRISPR therapy delivered into the bloodstream can travel to desired tissues to make edits.

We can overcome one of the biggest challenges with applying CRISPR clinically.

—JENNIFER DOUDNA

"This is a major milestone for patients," Jennifer Doudna, co-developer of CRISPR, who wasn't involved in the trial, told NPR.

"While these are early data, they show us that we can overcome one of the biggest challenges with applying CRISPR clinically so far, which is being able to deliver it systemically and get it to the right place," she continued.

What they did: During a phase 1 clinical trial, Intellia researchers injected a CRISPR therapy dubbed NTLA-2001 into the bloodstreams of six people with a rare, potentially fatal genetic disorder called transthyretin amyloidosis.

The livers of people with transthyretin amyloidosis produce a destructive protein, and the CRISPR therapy was designed to target the gene that makes the protein and halt its production. After just one injection of NTLA-2001, the three patients given a higher dose saw their levels of the protein drop by 80% to 96%.

A better option: The CRISPR therapy produced only mild adverse effects and did lower the protein levels, but we don't know yet if the effect will be permanent. It'll also be a few months before we know if the therapy can alleviate the symptoms of transthyretin amyloidosis.

This is a wonderful day for the future of gene-editing as a medicine.

—FYODOR URNOV

If everything goes as hoped, though, NTLA-2001 could one day offer a better treatment option for transthyretin amyloidosis than a currently approved medication, patisiran, which only reduces toxic protein levels by 81% and must be injected regularly.

Looking ahead: Even more exciting than NTLA-2001's potential impact on transthyretin amyloidosis, though, is the knowledge that we may be able to use CRISPR injections to treat other genetic disorders that are difficult to target directly, such as heart or brain diseases.

"This is a wonderful day for the future of gene-editing as a medicine," Fyodor Urnov, a UC Berkeley professor of genetics, who wasn't involved in the trial, told NPR. "We as a species are watching this remarkable new show called: our gene-edited future."

Quantcast