By Dr. Mercola
On July 1, 2015, Oregon became the fourth state to legalize marijuana for recreational use. In Colorado, recreational pot has been legal since 2012 and medical marijuana since 2001. About half the states in the country now permit the use of medical marijuana.
With state laws changing almost monthly, America's appetite for marijuana is growing — leaving the weed business booming. An estimated 33 million Americans used pot in 2013, up nearly one-third from a decade ago.
In the midst of this "marijuana gold rush," growers eagerly struggle to meet demand, while facing the challenges of operating a legal drug business in a world where overriding laws still regard pot as illegal, and the changes haven't trickled up.
The CNBC special "Marijuana Country: The Cannabis Boom" takes a look at the challenges the new pot industry has caused in Colorado, as well as the legal quagmire related to marijuana crossing state lines.
What happens in Colorado won't stay in Colorado — they are paving the way for the rest of us in this brave new world of legal weed. It's just a matter of time before other states run into the same legal, ethical, and public health concerns.
Marijuana Bud May Be Colorado's Unofficial State Flower
Colorado is now home to more than 500 marijuana stores. One of the largest, Medicine Man, turns out more than 120 pounds per week and has dubbed itself "The Costco of the Grow." Their grow houses cultivate more than 70 different varieties of cannabis.
In its first year, Colorado's legal pot sales topped half a billion dollars and generated $50 million in taxes for the state.
Colorado has become a major pot exporter, supplying states in which pot remains illegal. Only 40 percent of sales are to Colorado residents — the other 60 percent are to tourists.
"Marijuana tourism"1 is creating significant discord between Colorado and its neighboring states. In fact, Nebraska and Oklahoma are suing Colorado in the US Supreme Court, arguing they've suffered "direct and significant harm" from pot's crossing the borders.