From the smallest hamlets to Colorado’s capital, dozens of communities have allowed sales of recreational marijuana since legalization took effect.
Since its creation as a railway headquarters for the Rio Grande Southern Railroad in 1890, the town of Ridgway has often found itself dependent on the traffic that heads through on the way to nearby Telluride and Ouray.
If Colorado had a “pot desert,” it was the southeast corner of the state, a wide swath of fields and farms where U.S. 50 cuts through small communities such as La Junta, Las Animas and Lamar.
The roll-out of recreational marijuana sales five years ago has raised tens of millions of dollars annually to tackle a litany of local concerns — from paying for main street makeovers in cash-strapped small towns to expanding programs to address Denver’s opioid crisis and housing affordability crunch.
After voting down legal pot sales in 2013, Parachute’s town council revisited the issue two years later. In fairly short order half a dozen pot shops, including Colorado’s only drive-through weed store, sprung up.
Even with just two dozen marijuana dispensaries, Aurora has reaped tax benefits and used them to address large challenges in Colorado’s third-largest city.
Denver is set to bank roughly $180 million from all marijuana-related taxes and licensing fees in the first five years of recreational sales, but the city has spent the money cautiously — until the flood gates opened in 2018.
Like many towns its size, the idea of legalized marijuana sales to residents of tiny Antonito just north of the New Mexico border, was both appealing and appalling, with visions of overflowing town coffers intermixed with nightmares of a gold-rush-esque overflow of its streets.
Five years ago is when legal cannabis sales in Colorado began, and in that time, Sedgwick has been the only town in the far northeast corner of the state to allow commerce in the once-illegal drug.
Medical professionals are seeing more patients with cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome come to emergency rooms. Stronger strains, legalization and higher recognition of the condition may be contributing factors.