Study: Pot Entrepreneurs Adding Millions To State Economy

DENVER (CBS4) – Colorado is the new frontier for cannabis production and sales, so much so that the state is drawing international attention.

“Twice a month we’ll do some sort of international story,” said Tim Cullen, co-owner of two marijuana shops in Denver.

On the day that CBS4 talked to Cullen, he was doing an interview with a Dutch television crew working on documentary.

“Maybe we can learn something here that can be applied in The Netherlands as well,” said Martijn Kieft, the producer with the Dutch crew.

The documentary focused on production, which is illegal in Holland. Cullen says that Colorado has put together a comprehensive set of rules and regulations that track each plant from seed to sale. In the last year, his business has evolved from medical marijuana to retail sales and quadrupled.

“We’ve seen, on average, about four times as many customer visits into the stores,” Cullen told CBS4.

Cullen and his business partner commissioned an economic impact study from the Daniel’s School of Business at the University of Denver. The study estimates sales for both his stores at $11.2 million, and projects that these pot entrepreneurs will pay nearly $1.5 million in state and local taxes.

“We produce revenue for the city and state at the rate of about eight times what a similar sized business does,” Cullen explained.

According to the study, their two shops have created 280 jobs both directly in the business and indirectly, such as security, accounting and packaging.

Workers at Cullen’s stores make on average $17 an hour, get paid vacations, and 50 percent of their health care benefits are paid.

“We really are having a positive economic effect on the Denver metro area and the state of Colorado,” Cullen said.

The economic effect is estimated at $30 million, according to the impact study. Cullen says they have plans to expand into Aurora in the coming year, which will mean more production, more jobs and more taxes.

— Written for CBSDenver.com by Special Projects Producer Libby Smith

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