Feb 10, 2014 8:27 PM by Tony Spehar
Colorado Attorney General John Suthers told News 5 that he was very doubtful the legalization of marijuana would bring any benefits to the state in an interview Monday morning.
Before the passage of Amendment 64 proponents of recreational marijuana legalization said pot sales would boost Colorado's economy and bring thousands of tourists and new residents. Attorney General Suthers said he didn't doubt thousands would come to Colorado, but he believes it won't be a good thing and could create a burden for the state.
"People that are moving here simply because we have marijuana available aren't likely to bring very high paying jobs with them or their dental practice or things," Suthers said. "They're probably going to bring their social security disability check with them and go on state Medicaid."
On the flip side, marijuana advocates said Suthers is wrong.
"It takes botanists, scientists, trimmers, cultivators, real estate agents, insurance people, security agents," explained KC Stark, a marijuana businessman.
Stark owns Studio A64, a private club where patrons can smoke their own marijuana, and plays a role in a number of medical marijuana shops in Colorado Springs as well as teaching potential shop owners how to run their businesses. He said the hundreds of people who travel to come to his investment meetings are bringing a lot to the table whether they plan to go into medical or recreational sales.
"January 25th, we had over 125 investors show up at downtown," Stark described. "Millions of dollars worth of investment."
Suthers said his doubts about pot's potential are based on the impact marijuana use might have on young people in school. He also believes that for many people marijuana could be a gateway to harder drugs like heroin, prescription pills or meth.
"I would think the overall drug landscape in Colorado will be worse because of our embrace of recreational marijuana," he explained.
KC Stark had problems with that argument as well.
"We don't see our patients coming to us one day asking for marijuana and then coming in looking like heroin addicts," he said.
A number of recent studies by government groups and medical schools determined marijuana use might play a small role in leading users to harder drugs. However, many of those studies also concluded that data showed if marijuana is to be considered a "gateway drug" then alcohol and tobacco should be as well.
As for which side is right, Suthers and Stark said time will tell who is in the right.