We looked in-depth at what’s going on in other states that have legalized recreational cannabis, and here’s the bottom line: contrary to what the opposition said, the sky has not fallen. Teens are not consuming more; crime, accidents and health issues have not grown appreciably.

Making it too easy to grow cannabis commercially or open a recreational dispensary can cause some problems, as can making it too hard. Colorado seems to have found the goldilocks zone, with relatively even access across the state, a much-depressed black market and significant tax revenue for state and municipal governments.

Most states still seem averse to home delivery and public-place consumption. California has recently legalized both, without any apparent problems.

Legal cannabis is good for business, with a surge in start-ups, an increase in tourism, and opportunities for savvy businesses and health practitioners to position themselves as cannabis friendly.

When you’re state is slow to open dispensaries, the black market will continue to thrive.

California initially gave local authorities a veto over recreational dispensaries. Maine and Vermont legalized weed, but put off dispensaries for 2-3 years. All have seen the black market continue to prosper.

Widespread availability may lead to black market decline.

Colorado made it easy to open recreational dispensaries, and now there are more than 500 in a state 85% the size of Massachusetts. Easy access has led to a significant drop in the cannabis black market, with only about 20% of Colorado purchases now attributed to it.

Liberal commercial grow licensing can backfire.

Based on experience of Oregon and Washington state, too-liberal commercial grow licensing can lead to a glut of cannabis. While good for consumers—prices can drop significantly—it’s bad for the growers, reduces tax revenues for the states, and can lead to excess product finding its way onto the black market.

Local control of dispensary permitting can create access disparities.

California found that letting local municipalities have a veto over recreational dispensary permits quickly led to wide disparities in access. Many conservative small towns and suburbs enacted bans, while progressive-minded cities welcomed recreational dispensaries. To rectify this, the state enacted a new law permitting home delivery everywhere in the state, regardless of local opposition to dispensaries.

Teen consumption of cannabis won’t likely increase.

Pretty much every state that has legalized adult use cannabis has seen no increase in teen consumption. In fact, other than Oregon, all these states have seen teen use continue a 5-10 year downward trend.

Adult consumption of cannabis will grow.

Most states that have legalized recreational cannabis have seen modest increases in cannabis consumption among adults, continuing an upward trend observed nationally for almost a decade. Washington State has seen a surprising jump, which may be the result of liberal attitudes, widespread availability, and a glut of inexpensive weed.

There will be no surge in cannabis-related crime or health issues.

Some cannabis-legal states have actually seen a drop in cannabis-related crime. Data on cannabis-related driving accidents are mixed—some stats say they’re up, others that they’ve dropped. While there have been increases in cannabis-related emergency room visits, authorities aren’t sure if it’s because of more cannabis use or a greater willingness to admit to cannabis consumption

Canna-entrepreneurialism will thrive.

Cannabis legalization has led to a surge in new cannabis-related businesses, from edible manufacturing to cannabis tours, and with them, many new jobs. The Pacific Northwest—from Vancouver to Portland, OR, is rife with canna-tech start-ups.

Canna-tourism will bring people and revenue to the state.

Legalization has created opportunities for hotels, resorts and tour guides to reposition themselves as cannabis friendly. Beautiful scenery, outdoor activities and weed have helped states like Colorado attract tens of thousands of new tourists each year, and with them, millions of dollars in spending.

Over time, holistic health practitioners will embrace cannabis.

Out west, savvy holistic health practitioners, especially massage therapists and yoga instructors, are starting to jump on the cannabis bandwagon, offering ganja classes, cannabis retreats and CBD massage. As public acceptance grows, expect more to embrace it in their practices.


To learn more about what’s going on in other states, and to gain access to source material, read our blogs:

Legal cannabis: what we can learn from California

Legal cannabis: what we can learn from Colorado

Legal cannabis: what we can learn from Oregon

Legal cannabis: what we can learn from Washington State