Marijuana has long been on the minds and in the lungs of the people of Colorado. Back in November of 2000, the state first approved Amendment 20 which allowed the use of marijuana for approved medical patients. Fast forward 14 years and Colorado has a full-blown legal marijuana market, now offering cannabis to both medical and recreational users. While marijuana has long been associated with the mile-high city and the state of Colorado, 2014 was a historic year for the state’s relationship with the plant. This was the first year of implementation for recreational sales of marijuana and it was also a year that saw an extraordinary volume of growth to the state. While it’s impossible to know exactly how much marijuana legalization impacted the unprecedented growth in Colorado during the same year. Let’s find out if the sticky green herb is a major factor in attracting new residents or not.
Colorado Population Growth
According to the Denver Post, Colorado was the second-fastest-growing state in the country between 2014 and 2015. Nearly 101,000 new residents called Colorado their home and people were flocking to Denver and other thriving small cities. Only North Dakota grew at a faster rate than Colorado during this period, which was almost all due to the oil boom that was going on up there.
The Green Rush
Many people are calling it the ‘Green Rush’ which refers to the people who are moving to Colorado to take advantage of legal marijuana and the enormous amount of money it is producing for the state and the entrepreneurs who’ve chosen to start a business in the cannabis industry. Over the last few years, marijuana has brought billions of dollars into the state. During 2014, marijuana sales were over $700 million, which increased to $996 million in 2015, and over a billion last year! This translates to a lot of money in the pockets of both the government and the entrepreneurs who’ve chosen to sell legal cannabis as well as the plethora of businesses that cater to the industry in general.
The Effect of Legalization on the Colorado Population
There’s no easy way to quantify the effect of the Green Rush on the Colorado population. Unfortunately, there’s no one at the airport and borders of Colorado asking each new resident if they are moving to Colorado because of legal cannabis or not. Before marijuana went recreational in 2014, the population had been growing, and while the last few years have certainly marked a surge in new residents, most experts speculate that marijuana has had only a small impact in convincing people to move to Colorado. That’s not to say that there are not some people who’ve chosen to call Colorado their home for marijuana. Whether it’s for medical or recreational reasons, pot is popular and this extra perk of the lifestyle in Colorado could certainly tip the scales if a potential resident was trying to choose between two cities. There are also people who’ve come to set up shop in Colorado and try to get a piece of the billion-dollar pie. But all that being said, most experts agree there are other factors at play that have contributed more to Colorado’s growth than marijuana.
Why is Everyone Moving to Colorado then?
Anyone who’s visited Colorado knows it’s a beautiful place to live, with an endless array of fun things to do. The mountains supply an enormous about of winter and summer activities and that combined with 300+ days of sunshine is reason enough for most to desire to live in Colorado. However, beyond the sun and fun that Colorado provides, one of the primary reasons why the population has been growing so much lately is due to the economic growth and abundance of new jobs in the state. The GDP in Colorado has some of the best growth in the whole country and in 2015 it was the 4th fastest-growing state in the nation with 3.6% economic growth. The Colorado job market has been growing faster and faster over the last few years and Denver has been considered a ‘bright spot’ in terms of job availability. There are also a number of thriving smaller cities like Loveland, Fort Collins, and Greeley that have been growing steadily with good economic and job growth. There are more and more companies that are choosing to make Colorado their home which is a major factor in why everyone is moving to Colorado.