Legalized marijuana is a gold mine for Colorado revenue—and what else? Ask the churches.
On January 1, Colorado stores selling recreational marijuana opened their doors. Within a week, The Denver Post reported, nearly 100,000 people—about 30 percent of them from out of state—had bought the drug.
Until New Year’s Day, marijuana dispensaries could sell only to customers with a doctor’s recommendation and a state-issued medical marijuana card. Now, any Colorado resident 21 and over can purchase marijuana.
Many Coloradans celebrate the legalization as a landmark victory in the war on drugs. The courts won’t be clogged with recreational users, and sales will generate an estimated $27.5 million per year for schools. With both a 25 percent state tax and 2.9 percent sales tax, state officials expect to yield a total of $67 million a year and total sales of nearly $580 million in revenues.
The buying spree may have slowed since its first week, but the church is thinking about how to respond to the new multimillion-dollar industry.
Jason Malec, founding pastor of New Denver Church and an American Bible Society executive, said it’s too early to discern a cultural shift among Colorado Christians.
“No one has come to me saying, ‘Because pot is legal at the state level, is it okay for us?’ That probably will happen, but it’s too new for us,” he said. “Most Christians I know just shrug their shoulders. Rarely do I hear people talking about it.”
But Jared Mackey, a pastor at the Next Level Church in Englewood, said the legalization has caught the attention of his church, which includes both recovering alcoholics and brewers. They are having deep discussion “about substance use and abuse” and “issues of the heart, rather than focusing merely …