[Editor's Note: Colorado's burgeoning cannabis industry is the first of its kind, and with it a fascinating and unprecedented lifestyle is emerging. More and more people are traveling to the region to experience the groundbreaking cannabis culture, and AlterNet is focused on bringing readers up to speed with on-the-ground reports that capture this vibrant new scene.]
The New Year is upon us and with it the expectation of promise. Promise of a new land, a new freedom, a new way of life. Longed for by the masses for at least the last three generations, the liberty to consume cannabis has been a long and hard fought battle. But we have won! We have won. And so they come …and so they come.
Over the past year many people have uplifted their lives in more ways than one by moving to Denver. For some, they come for the spirit of freedom, for others it’s about health. They are coming in droves.
Population estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau for the Denver Metro area expect population growth to exceed 1.4% in 2013. That’s after the almost 3 % increase Denver has seen since 2010. The economic forecast is likewise looking up, with the Metro Area projecting in 2014 to regain all of the jobs lost during the last recession according to The Metro Denver Economic Development Corporation and the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce .
But just what is driving this push to Denver? It surely has nothing to do with the fact that most of our country’s energy sector is located here … no. It’s not because the Denver Federal Center is essentially the Washington D.C. of the West … no. It’s not the beautiful climate or the lovely topography … certainly not. It’s just got to be the marijuana.
The “Green Rush” is in full swing. With the potential for unprecedented job growth, the industrious power of the nascent cannabis industry has been likened to that of the “dot com” boom. Denver in this analogy is Silicone Valley. The people are coming and the industry is looking for its next big Apple.
Many come looking for jobs. But it’s not an easy market. By all estimates, there are many more badge holders than there are jobs in the cannabis industry. Still, the chance to work brings the faithful to Colorado in the hopes that they too can find gainful employment with cannabis.
“I have people call me every day for a job. They tell me they’re getting ready to move here or have just moved here” says Jordan Helene Person, accounts manager at Caregivers for Life. Jordan understands. She came here from Florida herself just this last year.
“I came here to be healed by medical marijuana with hopes to then make a career of it,” she says. “I had multiple surgeries and medical marijuana really saved my life. Once I got to Denver, it’s what I wanted to do. I volunteered with Cannapages then volunteered bud-tending for AJ Hashman’s monthly MMJ Meet & Greets. That led to Caregivers for Life picking me up.”
Jessica Lynne Young moved here three weeks after Colorado legalized adult use marijuana. “We pulled in December 31, 2012,” she says. “We moved to Colorado to legally grow and to work with marijuana. I decided about three months after I moved to the Springs to pursue a career in the medical industry. I knew it was going to be hard to land a bud-tending job … Hands down [it’s] one of the best jobs I've ever had! They pay well and treat us even better.”
Claude the CandyMan came to Denver in July of 2013, moving his SweetStone Medicated Candies Company from Michigan to Colorado. SweetStone made a deal with Medically Correct, the Denver company that produces The Incredibles Bar. When asked why he moved his successful Michigan business to Colorado, Claude says, “It’s the safety net of it being legal out here and more regulated so I don’t run the risk of getting raided or put in jail
Still, cannabis may not be the only reason they’re coming. Taylor Dockhorn writes, “I'm from the Kansas City area. I just signed a lease Saturday after graduating college earlier this month. I came mostly for legal access to herb plus quality and consistent concentrates. But [I] choose the city of Denver because it is the craft beer Mecca and I'm a huge beer geek. I love snowboarding so that's another big reason. ”
The freedom to smoke marijuana isn’t the only reason people are relocating here. Many families have made the move to Colorado to pursue hope for a suffering loved one. Nearly 100 families have come to Colorado in the past year alone to find relief for their kids who suffer from Dravet's Syndrome, a form of debilitating epilepsy.
Kids suffering from this disorder experience grand-mal seizures on the order of what can be hundreds of times in a month. Since the airing of Dr. Sanjay Gupta’s special on CNN of Charlotte Figi, treated with CBD oil developed by the Stanley brothers, many families have come here looking for the same kind of relief.
And their population is increasing. The number of registered pediatric medical marijuana users in the state went from four in 2012 to 81 as of October 2013. The stories are coming in.
Like the one about a family in Colorado Springs who reported in The Gazette about how their lives have changed after moving from Virginia in September. Doctors there said the only treatment left for their 9-year-old daughter's nearly constant seizures was to remove half of her brain. Since moving to Colorado, they’re getting their daughter back without the dramatic surgery.
Whether it’s to treat epilepsy for their kids or to help grownups take their chemo, the people are coming to Colorado to experience the freedom to medicate in peace. They’re coming. They’re coming for the lifestyle. They’re coming for life itself.
Published with permission from THC Magazine.