When tourists visit Colorado, many look for original souvenirs, perhaps a set of Aspen Leaf earrings or a T-shirt with a list of all of the Fourteeners in Colorado.

After agriculture and the oil and gas industry, tourism is one of the most important elements of Colorado’s economy.

Tax revenue and pot shop proprietors are proving that a key growth area in our tourism industry is recreational marijuana. Many Coloradans are smart enough to stay on the medicinal kind, but tourists have no choice.

The small town of DeBeque, situated west of Glenwood Springs, but east of Grand Junction, just off of I-70, understands this new reality and is poised to take full advantage of it.

Most of the discussion about pot tax revenue has revolved around what’s going on in the metro area. Suburban communities have enough tax bases to be picky about new businesses they embrace.

But sadly, many of Colorado’s small towns cannot afford to be that picky.

Many small towns have embraced the oil and gas industry, but not all towns are lucky enough to be in the right location.

But some, like DeBeque, are exactly in the right position to take advantage of pot tourism. The town recently approved the sale of recreational marijuana and its first shop is set to open this fall.

The idea of approving a pot shop to take advantage of pot tourism was a new idea a long time ago. But the point here is how the decision made by this little town off of I-70 may lead other towns to make similar decisions.

Imagine I-70 and I-25 becoming a virtual 420 Route 66.

Towns with very few actual pot smokers may be known as marijuana meccas because of how easy it is to swing by and pick up some pot on your way to other popular tourism sites.

Anyone who has enjoyed a road trip in Colorado understands the real value of a town that can cater to travelers off of a major highway. Now it seems that roadside attractions may take on an entirely different meaning.

Small towns that count citizens by the hundreds, not the thousands, could see a major effect from just one pot shop in town.

Perhaps the boon from pot revenue won’t be in the form of millions for state coffers, but as a way for many Colorado small towns to recover from the recession in an unexpected way.

If pot shops become the next path to economic security for small towns, we will know that the small town of DeBeque played a major role in the transformation.

Dominic Dezzutti’s Latest Blog Entries

About The Blogger

– Dominic Dezzutti, producer of the Colorado Decides debate series, a co-production of CBS4 and Colorado Public Television, looks at the local and national political scene in his CBSDenver.com blog. Read new entries here usually every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Dezzutti writes about federal, state and local matters and how our elected leaders are handling the issues important to Colorado. Dezzutti is also the host and producer of the Emmy award winning Colorado Inside Out on Colorado Public Television.


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