When I set out to report "Going Green" for our December issue (on newsstands this week), I was fully onboard with Colorado's newly minted marijuana legalization. I've written about the topic for 5280.com many times, and most of my columns have stressed the hypocrisy of the drug's longtime criminalization and of our government's erratic enforcement of it.
After diving more deeply into the subject, I'm still strongly in favor of legalization—but I understand its opponents a lot better. I'm not referring to those who blindly or lazily perpetuate myths about marijuana's allegedly demonic effects. I'm referring to those who have genuine and legitimate concerns about how the drug will be distributed, sold, and monitored.
Like any large, untested marketplace, legalized marijuana in Colorado will take some time to find its footing. The stigma still attached to it will keep the fretters fretting, and any stories of criminality that emerge—whether real or sensationalized—will probably get more attention at first. This is just fine; after all, marijuana legalization here and in Washington state represents our nation's first grand post-prohibition experiment since the Dust Bowl era.
"Going Green" attempts to clarify what those setbacks might be and how we'll handle them when they arrive. Because the news about legalization is constantly changing, the story is structured as an A-to-Z guide of the myriad factors at play and how they might all fit together after January 1. This includes everything from facts and myths to mini-stories about the remaining prohibitions, permissions, regulations, and questions, along with inside looks at some of the people who are charged with sorting out the new reality.
As I said, I'm still pro-legalization, but "Going Green" has given me a refreshed appreciation for all the work that lies ahead. In passing Amendment 64, Colorado voters reaffirmed the Western tradition of fostering individual freedoms and our fondness for bootstrapped initiatives. With the eyes of the nation—and truthfully, the world—upon us, now we just have to prove we made the right choice.
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Follow 5280 articles editor Luc Hatlestad on Twitter at @LucHatlestad.