As Illinois looks to legalize medical marijana, the Chicago Tribune
looks west to Colorado for an industry model.
[Colorado's] therapeutic cannabis industry launched in earnest in late 2009, triggering a "green rush" that boosted the state's economy. Big Marijuana added thousands of new jobs, revitalized aging industrial warehouses and shuttered storefronts, and generated millions of tax dollars for the federal, state and local governments.
At the same time, state officials acknowledge they were unprepared to license, inspect and regulate medical marijuana businesses, leaving millions of fees and taxes uncollected and a significant swath of the industry unchecked. And recently released police data show a modest uptick in certain crimes near marijuana businesses in Denver.
But as the nation's first highly regulated, for-profit market, Colorado has served as a model for other states seeking to get in on the action.
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