Budding Colorado Businesses Cater To The 'Green Rush' Following Marijuana Legalization

Category: US Politics / Nov 13, 2012 6:43PM EDT
Colorado became one of two U.S. states to legalize the possession and sale of marijuana for recreational use on November 6 (Washington being the other), in defiance of federal law. But the impending federal legal hurdles have not stopped hundreds of budding businesses all around the Rocky Mountain state from cashing in on what's been dubbed the new "green rush." Nearly 53 percent of voters cast ballots in support of Amendment 64, which is scheduled to go into effect in January 2014. These trends have inspired entrepreneurs like Stefan Wonnecott, who operates a Denver area dispensary. "This has been legal here in one way or another since 2000, 2001, so we haven't seen those increases in drug use in youth, or violence, and things like that. So there's always going to be people who don't agree with us, who don't like what we're doing," says Wonnecott. Andy Neely, a partner at an edible marijuana company says regulation is a welcome part of the new legislation "Careful regulation is important. I think most important is ensuring that the state gets the revenue that it's looking for, ensuring that the criminal activity is kept out of the industry, because it doesn't help the front lines, it doesn't help the battle that we're really working on, which is education, and medical common sense in a lot of regards," said Neely. No one was more thrilled with the passage than Rob Kampia, the executive director of the Marijuana Policy Project, a non-profit organization that sponsored the legislation. "If you actually talk to law enforcement officials, who are usually opponents of this project that we're working on, if you ask them which drug is more likely to be problematic with regard to violence, especially domestic violence, marijuana or alcohol, alcohol is the driver of violence and marijuana's not," says Kampia. Both Colorado and Washington already have laws on the books legalizing marijuana for medical purposes, but the latest measures put both states in further conflict with the federal government, which classifies cannabis as an illegal narcotic.