It’s one thing when pro-cannabis organizations say that Colorado’s experiment with legal recreational pot has gone swimmingly.

But it’s quite another when the bow-tie wearing nerds at one of the world’s most influential think tanks say it has been “a success.”

That’s the declaration this week of the Washington, D.C.-based Brookings Institution. Getting recreational legalization right wasn’t easy. John Hudak, who authored the Brookings report on Colorado’s experience so far, says:

Setting up a legal retail marijuana industry was an unprecedented policy change. Whenever legislators, regulators, and industry actors are facing a big change with very little experience, it poses tremendous risks of failure. Moreover, marijuana is prohibited by federal law. It’s a real challenge for the state to implement legalization within that frame.

Hudak credited politicians, including a governor who opposed legalization, with setting their personal beliefs aside in order to implement effective policy. Even cops, he says, set aside their bias:

I found different groups in the state—particularly law enforcement and health care—retraining, rethinking, and gathering information on what legalization means for them. In a polarized political environment, oftentimes the immediate reaction to a controversial change is just outright opposition. Colorado has shown a real willingness to build the new reality into its own reality.

Hear that, California?

About The Author


Raul Duke has been working as a journalist in Southern California for two decades. The medical marijuana juggernaut is one of his many beats. He's a longtime Westside resident who needs to renew his doctor's recommendation soon. If you have news tips, reach out:

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