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11 years ago today, Boulder, Colorado's fresh mountain air was shrouded in smoke. Forest fires? Guess again.
Over 10,000 students, teachers, and tourists gathered on the University of Colorado campus for the unofficial and unsanctioned 4/20 communal smoke-out. Hoolah hoops, drum circles, and glass-blown paraphernalia abounded. “We’re sending a message that we are ready to end prohibition. Weed needs to be legalized,” said one attendee.
A year later, the smell of marijuana was replaced by something far worse (unless you’re this sea lion). On the morning of 4/20, university administrators covered the grounds in a layer of fish fertilizer and closed the campus to visitors, threatening criminal prosecution. Just like that, the largest marijuana gathering in Colorado was snuffed out for good. (That’s a pun.)
The Big Green behind the Big Green
Since the 2012 salmon sabotage (it wasn’t salmon, but just go with it), recreational cannabis has been legalized in 19 states — Colorado and Washington leading the pack. In 2021, Colorado set a new record, selling $12 billion of medical and retail marijuana. That’s over $423 million in tax and fee revenue. And don’t forget about all the new billionaires made along the way.
But how many people are actually ~partaking~? Well, it’s estimated that about 25 million Americans are active pot smokers. And with taxes top of mind, it may interest you to know that U.S. taxpayers spend over $1 billion a year incarcerating citizens for marijuana-related charges.
So what would happen if we federally legalized cannabis? Economist Stephen Easton suggests it could bring in $45 to $100 billion a year. That’s enough to buy Celine Dion’s entire shoe collection probably.
It’s not a question of if cannabis will be federally legalized, it’s a matter of when. And if Colorado is any indicator, first movers can win big. So are cannabis stocks the way to go?
Around here, we like to say it’s hard to beat the market, but it’s easy to beat the taxman. Before you take bets on the future of marijuana, get yourself a healthy nest egg. That starts with an emergency fund of easily accessible cash, and squeezing the juices out of your tax advantages — employer 401(k) match, IRA, etc.
With those guard rails in place, go ahead and get creative with up to 5% of your investments. Sure, not every risky investment will pay off, but one of the best parts about optimizing every dollar is it gives you wiggle room to get creative and take risks — all without compromising your future freedom.
To financial freedom and beyond,
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