Today is April 20 — or 420 Day, if you prefer. In Colorado, Washington, Oregon and Alaska, April 20 is sort of like a holiday. These states have all legalized the sale and consumption of marijuana for recreational use for adults 21 years or older. The legal right to “burn one down” is being celebrated with special vigor today. As Dave Matthews would say, “Something smells good.”
And there’s a lot of that something.
In November 2012, Colorado voters embraced Amendment 64, which legalized recreational marijuana and also allowed for licensed marijuana retail stores, cultivation operations and edibles manufacturing. (Medical marijuana has been legal in Colorado since 2000.) Retail stores opened for business in 2014. After just two years, Colorado’s legal marijuana industry is worth $1 billion
. In 2014, marijuana retailers sold roughly $700 million of pot; in 2015, that figure soared to $996 million. (It is not surprising that cannabis is gaining credibility as a legitimate cash crop
Tax revenues have predictably followed suit. The 2014 total was $76 million, and 2015’s tax revenues jumped by 56 percent to $135 million. Of the three marijuana taxes, the largest — a 15 percent excise tax
— is earmarked for school construction projects. Little wonder, then, that there is a bill currently circulating around the Colorado legislature that would force Colorado schools to administer medical marijuana
to students with “prescriptions” for marijuana treatments.
The normalization and legalization of marijuana may be perfectly fine to some reading this. Or it may be one more indicator that our society is going to pot. (Sorry, I had to. I feel bad about it, just so you know.) For Christians, the normalization of weed has raised serious questions about morality, cultural engagement and lifestyle choices.