Lessons California can learn from legalization in Colorado and Washington

Earlier this month, Washington state residents joined those in Colorado in enjoying the legal recreational use of marijuana.

It’s been six months since Coloradans have been able to buy pot in retail stores, and some preliminary results are in as far as tax revenues and the effect legalization has had on crime rates. Both are favorable. News reports reveal Colorado has collected $11 million in marijuana sales taxes so far and expects that number to grow to around $200 million over the next four years. In addition, violent-crime rates have dropped 10 percent over last year in Denver.

This is all good news for Washington, and good news for Californians in favor of either legalization or a more top-down regulated medical-cannbabis industry.

Just last month, Washington set new guidelines for pot shops based on data from Colorado. We can do the same. If legalization is on the ballot this November, or in 2016, we should strongly consider approving it. It could be a financial boon to our cash-strapped state while easing pressure on our courts and prison system. And, as we all know, prohibition only serves to fuel the black market. The regulations in Colorado and Washington also can be applied to our existing medical-marijuana industry.

We don’t have to be the guinea pigs anymore—we can follow the trails blazed by Colorado and Washington.