Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Some rural areas are slow to embrace legal marijuana

Michigan voters will decide in November whether they want to legalize recreational marijuana. Supporters of the initiative say it could help the economy in rural parts of the state, but it's been a "mixed bag" for other states, Steve Carmody reports for Michigan Public Radio.

Pueblo County (Wikipedia map)
In Pueblo County, Colorado, so many cannabis businesses have opened in recent years that local lawmakers have put a moratorium on new licenses. "The growing marijuana industry is changing people’s perception of Pueblo County. For many years, steel mills and agriculture – in particular green chiles – defined the county. But now the county is becoming synonymous with cannabis," Carmody reports.

Marijuana has brought more jobs and business investment to Pueblo, but some say it has brought problems too. Rod Slyhoff, CEO of the Greater Pueblo Chamber of Commerce, said people more frequently fail local employers' drug tests. "Since legalization, the county has seen an increase in property crime and homelessness," Carmody reports. "There has also been an increase in seizures of drugs like heroin and amphetamines. And in the first six months of this year, Pueblo County sheriff’s deputies busted more than 40 illegal grow operations." Some Pueblo residents tried and failed to make recreational cultivation and sales illegal in 2016.

Rural Nevada is also slow to embrace recreational marijuana. Representatives in several rural counties said "they either have ordinances on their books that prohibit marijuana sales locally or have not seen any interest in local sales," Wade Millward reports for the Las Vegas Review-Journal. Other counties and towns said they allow medical dispensaries but no cultivation or sales of recreational marijuana. And some rural Californians protest legalized marijuana, saying that cultivation will damage the land, use up scarce water and bring crime.

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