Legal marijuana in our towns

Published October 2021

You may have seen in our local newspaper that two “pot shops” have been selected to operate in Cedaredge, and Paonia is in the process of determining vendors (October 2021). We took a moment to see what’s happened in  communities where retail marijuana operations have started up, especially as it relates to property values and crime rates.

Advocates for, and critics against, all offer sensible arguments which reflect their positions about legal marijuana presence in a community. We looked at data from the National Association of Realtors (pro-real estate professionals) and the Cato Institute (libertarian think tank started by Charles Koch) and it was interesting to note that these sources offered similar FACTS, despite having widely differing philosophies.

Some obvious effects of legalized marijuana in a state include a slight increase in purchasing versus leasing of warehouses, land and retail storefronts, which makes sense. HOAs and landlords (of both residential and commercial properties) have been adding provisions to their legal documents about restricting growth and consumption.  Realtors® report that it’s easier to sell a property formerly used as a “grow house” as the passage of time reduces  stigmatization and buyer reluctance.

Some not-so-obvious effects? There tended to be a gap between perception and reality, as far as property values and crime rates. While the perception was that crime would go up, it didn’t. While the perception was that nearby property values would go down, they didn’t. Now, this isn’t saying the opposite; in fact, both crime rates in residential areas and property values of residential real estate near dispensaries stayed about the same as they had been in the past.

One thing that absolutely affects all communities where there is legalized marijuana: sales tax revenues. There are multiple taxes imposed on these sales. In 2021, the state of Colorado had collected over $251 million through the end of July. In 2020, the total number for the year was over $387 million. Both towns of Cedaredge and Paonia intend to levy additional taxes on each sale, which funds will contribute to improvements in infrastructure, policing,  transportation, and parks.

The state of Colorado continues to craft its legislative and regulatory positions and is considered a worldwide leader in  the legal commercialized marijuana space.