Whether it be chain smoking a pack of Marlboro’s while stuck in traffic or pouring yourself just one more vodka-soda after a hard day’s work, we all have our vices that in all actuality, probably help to keep us sane. It’s no doubt that smoking marijuana has always been a favored choice of de-stresser and reward, if you will, for many people not just in Colorado, but all around the country too. As a majority of the United States has not legalized marijuana yet, there are obviously still areas where use of the plant is very much so frowned upon and not accepted whatsoever, but one would be naive to think that people in these types of towns just refrain from smoking weed all together. Whatever your choice of decompressing may be, know that there are thousands of others out there doing the exact same thing.
As of recently, it seems as though taking part in green-related activities are surpassing both drinking and smoking when it comes to the main vice of choice. Could this be in large part due to the recreational legalization that has taken place in Colorado, Oregon, Washington and Alaska, creating a more accepting environment when it comes to being open about using cannabis in daily life? According to results from the annual National Survey on Drug Use and Health, once Colorado made the decision to legalize recreational use, it quickly soared to become the state with the second highest percentage of regular cannabis users. This was in 2012-13 so no doubt the number is only higher now as it becomes more and more integrated into society.
Even the states that are permitting medicinal use only are still proving that there are benefits when it comes to consumption of marijuana, drawing in a different crowd of users and supporters. Those who use it for medicinal purposes are no longer afraid of the negative stigma that might have formally placed upon them, and can now feel proud to share with others a form of treatment that has proved effective for them. Now that weed has become a much more popular and accepted substance for both medical and recreational uses, overall tolerance has also been increased, allowing for people to be way more open when it comes to talking about how it fits into their lifestyle and daily routines.
Interestingly, data gathered by the Colorado Department of Revenue shows that in the last fiscal year (2014-2015), our state generated way more tax revenue from the sales of marijuana than compared to what the alcohol industry was able to garner. Sure, pot that’s sold at dispensaries is taxed up the ass with a 2.9 percent sales tax and 10-15 percent state sales tax, which would naturally result in a high amount of tax revenue being able to be collected, but also think about the massive amount of alcohol that is both served, bought, and consumed every day and night– yeah, it’s a whole lot. The actual difference between the two categories when it came to earned tax revenues was $70 million from cannabis sales and $42 million from sales of alcohol. As the forerunner when it comes to paving the way for a demonstrating a fully legal and functioning cannabis market, Colorado is now displaying how regulation is more successful than prohibition by proving to beneficial for the state’s economy. Based on the amount of money it has already brought in as an industry, it is clear to see just how many people are opting to purchase cannabis or cannabis-infused products even with plenty of black market deals still taking place too.
Another example of cannabis taking over as the number one vice, is the amount of college students that are choosing to smoke the reefer instead of smoking cigarettes. In a “Monitoring the Future” survey conducted by the University of Michigan that has been issued annually since 1980, researchers found that 6 percent of full-time undergraduate students reported to using pot at least 20 times out of the past 30 days. While 5 percent of students identified as heavy tobacco users, this amount has decreased from a rate of 19 percent of respondents saying that they smoked daily back when the survey was conducted in 1999. While everyone has their own opinions about the health benefits and risks that come along with marijuana use and there is still much research being done, there are definite and established health problems already associated with consumption of tobacco. As marijuana replaces tobacco as the most smoked substance, it would seem that less people will experience the dangerous health effects that go along with smoking the latter. Results gathered from this same study also interestingly showed that fewer students were abusing alcohol than in years past. Being that this survey was conducted in Michigan, a place where recreational use of marijuana isn’t even legal, it would seem that in places where statistics already show a high rate of use, the same results would most likely carry over.
It will be eye-opening to see how percentages of drug and alcohol users continue to fluctuate as legalization keeps happening. Maybe marijuana becoming the new vice of choice isn’t such a bad thing after all?