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Colorado’s Marijuana Experiment, The Good, The Bad And The Ugly

After a year of Colorado’s unique experiment with legal marijuana, a new documentary set to air on Monday evening aims to look at the results, the good, the bad and the ugly.

The documentary, called “Marijuana Country: The Cannabis Boom”, premiers Monday. NBC News Correspondent Harry Smith is headed back to the state of Colorado to look at the explosion in the marijuana industry, which has resulted in $650 million dollars of sales. But with the incredible amount of revenue comes difficulties. As businesses scramble to take advantage of the marijuana boom, regulators are starting to realize that dosing requirements are hard to track and enforce over vastly different products like chocolates, soda and brownies.

Smith interviews drug dealers on how legalization has impacted their trade. One in particular, a U.S. Army veteran, has adapted to the change by funneling drugs across state lines. Contrary to the expectations of some advocates of legalization, black market activity has continued to thrive, since marijuana remains illegal in the surrounding states and Colorado taxes the drug at about 36 percent.

A major uptick of drugs filtering into neighboring states hasn’t escaped the notice of Nebraska and Oklahoma. The two states have recently joined forces to sue Colorado, asking for the U.S. Supreme Court to strike down recreational marijuana for violating the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution, as marijuana remains illegal under current federal law. Further legal issues complicate the landscape, as the Colorado Supreme Court looks to rule on the case of Brandon Coats, who was fired from his job after he tested positive for THC.

While the demand for marijuana as an export continues to rise, Colorado has also been the recipient of an incoming flood of what experts are calling medical refugees, that is, individuals who can’t obtain medical marijuana back in their home states.

“When you’re doing this for the first time, there’s no template,” Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper told CNBC in response to the wide range of social, culture, and legal positives and negatives which have presented themselves over the past year.

A recent poll surveying respondents who originally voted on Colorado’s Amendment 64 in 2012 found that 90 percent would vote the same way. The results from the 2012 showed that 54.8 percent voted to legalize the possession of marijuana up to one ounce, and only 45.1 percent voted against, according to The Denver Post, meaning that despite all the challenges the state has faced so far, residents of Colorado are still committed to continuing this experiment.

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