We often hear about how marijuana legalization has helped fund different educational programs or welfare services, but it turns out for one Colorado town, it basically saved them from economic depression.
Trinidad, Colorado is a small town of around 8,100 people about 13 miles north of the New Mexico border. Despite its small size, the town boasts 23 licensed marijuana dispensaries. That’s approximately one dispensary for every 352 residents, a rate about 10 times more than cannabis destinations such as Boulder or Denver.
Prior to marijuana legalization, the town was dying. Industrial jobs had left the area, and so had many of the town’s residents.
“Before marijuana came here, the town was dead,” Nick Cordova, owner of local restaurant Frontier BBQ and partner in the town’s “420-friendly” Frontier Motel, told High Times. “Half the population was gone. Half the town was abandoned. Half the downtown buildings were abandoned and run down. Without weed, half this town wouldn’t be here. Literally.”
Cordova even says marijuana’s the only sustainable industry in the town. No other businesses are creating jobs, and no where else is hiring. The town’s population has nearly doubled since just 2014.
The location is a huge selling point for Trinidad. Since it’s located so close to the New Mexico border, and actually not that far from Oklahoma or Texas as well, many cannabis seekers head to Trinidad to stock up on legal supply before (illegally) taking back to their home towns. One cannabis business owners says of the hundreds of sales he makes every day, he estimates only a half dozen are made by Colorado residents.
And while marijuana taxes may make up only a small part of the Colorado state government revenue, it’s a huge percentage for Trinidad. Last year the city’s marijuana tax brought in $2.5 million, which is a little under 20 percent of the city’s total $13 million general fund.
The big worry for the residents of Trinidad is what will happen if the state of New Mexico legalizes marijuana, which may not be too far off. For once, news of a state legalizing marijuana would actually not be great news for these cannabis business owners.
But until then, Trinidad will gladly profit off other states’ prohibitionist policies.