Legal Marijuana Viewed as Amenity by New Colorado Residents

A new study on Colorado migrants finds that legal access to recreational use marijuana is viewed as a desirable attribute.

For those looking to move out of state, a list of desirable attributes that other states possess can help narrow the search for a new home. Recent research shows one of those amenities for people moving to Colorado is legal access to cannabis.

In a new study, researchers found evidence suggesting that legalizing adult use marijuana had increased Colorado’s population by more than three percent as of 2015.

“We find strong evidence that potential migrants view legalized marijuana as a positive amenity with in‐migration significantly higher in Colorado…,” the study’s authors wrote.

The amenity report comes from researchers at universities in Ireland and Italy who sought to find the amenity value of legalized cannabis. Since Colorado has been a pioneer in cannabis legalization in the United States, the research team analyzed the impact of cannabis legalization on migration to the Centennial State.

To create an opportunity for comparison, researchers created a “synthetic Colorado” using data from 20 states where cannabis was still illegal in 2017. The goal of the creation was to have a model mimicking Colorado, only without legal access to cannabis.

The research team reportedly used data from the American Community Survey showing the numbers of new residents to Colorado and where they moved from. Researchers linked patterns of migration and positive views on cannabis together after two specific time periods.

The first followed the 2009 Obama action to make federal enforcement on states with approved medical cannabis laws a low priority. The second time period followed the legalization of recreational cannabis in 2012.

Between 2010 and 2013, in-migration increased by 21,372 people per year (a 11.4% increase) and after full legalization in 2013, in-migration further increased by 14,087 people per year (an additional 7.5% increase).

Does Legalizing Marijuana Make People Move Away?

In addition to determining that people find cannabis legalization a desirable attribute when moving to Colorado, the study also found that people were not flocking out of Colorado due to its cannabis laws.

“We find no evidence for changes in out‐migration from Colorado suggesting that marijuana legalization did not change the equilibrium for individuals already living in the state,” the study’s authors wrote.

In conclusion, the research team found 156,406 more people moved into Colorado after 2009 than what was expected using their synthetic-Colorado analysis.

“Given that we find no impact on outmigration, this implies that marijuana legalization increased Colorado’s population by 3.2% as of 2015,” the study’s authors wrote.

The article, “The Pot Rush: Is Legalized Marijuana a Positive Local Amenity?” was published in the journal Economic Inquiry.

Other Amenities Linked to Cannabis

Another amenity high on the list for most people looking to move is job availability. For those looking into finding a new career, the cannabis industry could be a good place to start. According to a new report, in 2019 the number of cannabis industry jobs will surpass web developer positions.

As more states pass cannabis access laws, the cannabis industry is expected to create jobs by the thousands. A report from Marijuana Business Daily projected 2019 cannabis jobs to grow 34 percent over the previous year’s numbers.

Another important amenity for many is low crime rates. Often viewed as a potential instigator of crime, studies suggest cannabis legalization may actually decrease rates of violent crime. A new study published in the Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization looked at states where medical cannabis was legal. The results showed a 3.7 percent drop in violent crime.

Where to Find Cannabis News

You can learn even more about the impact legalizing marijuana has made in Colorado.

Each week Medical Marijuana, Inc. News releases news featuring reports on cannabis business and policy. Visit our cannabis industry news site.