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Colorado tax enforcer tells ’60 Minutes’: Weed beat the recession in Denver

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In a 13-minute segment broadcast Sunday night, CBS’s “60 Minutes” explored Colorado’s budding medical marijuana industry, and heard from a former drug cop turned tax enforcer who insisted that the industry has helped Denver beat the recession.

That runs contrary to President Barack Obama’s logic: he said in 2010 that legalizing marijuana is not “a good strategy to grow our economy.”

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But the economic impact on Denver? According to Matt Cook, a former narcotics officer who oversees enforcement at the Colorado Department of Revenue, “it’s huge.”

Cook helped write the state’s medical marijuana law, and works as a consultant for medical marijuana businesses in the state. Speaking to “60 Minutes,” he said that the industry accounts for “over a million square feet of lease space in the Denver area.”

“Look at all the electrical contractors, HVAC contractors,” he said. “The number of ancillary businesses — it’s huge. Tax revenues exceeded, I believe the last number I heard was an excess of $20 million.”

While the state’s taxes on marijuana actually took in about $5 million during 2011, it certainly could spike as high or higher than Cook said: a recent study by the Colorado Center on Law and Policy found that legalized marijuana could pull in about $24 million in new revenue from an excise tax on marijuana production alone.

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The report adds that state sales taxes on pot could generate up to $8.7 million more, with local governments seeing an additional $14.5 million just in the first year. Savings on enforcement and incarceration during that same period would also top more than $12 million, the group said.

In spite of clearly positive effects, Cook’s assessment that pot beat the recession is a bit hopeful, and mostly anecdotal. Colorado’s unemployment rate fell to 8 percent in September, higher than the national average of 7.8. percent. In Denver, the rate fell to 7.4 percent in September, a marked improvement. In Boulder County, the jobless rate during that same period was a shocking 5.7 percent.

Boulder County District Attorney Stan Garnett told “60 Minutes” that getting a jury to convict on marijuana offenses has become nearly impossible. “What we deal with is what prosecutors call jury nullification, where juries say I know what the law is but I’m not going to follow it,” he said. “This community has made it very clear that criminal enforcement of marijuana is not something they want me to spend any time on.”

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Colorado is one of three states voting this November on full legalization of marijuana for recreational use, and polls show it could be a close vote. A recent poll by The Denver Post found that 48 percent of likely voters support Amendment 64, which would regulate marijuana like alcohol, while just 43 percent oppose the measure.

This video is from CBS’s “60 Minutes,” broadcast Sunday, October 21, 2012.


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Photo: Screenshot via CBS.com.


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Stephen Colbert rips ‘idiot’ GOP senator for defending Trump’s unconstitutional self-dealing

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"Late Show" host Stephen Colbert returned from New Zealand for a new show that aired Monday evening.

"I have been as far from the insatiable black hole of news that is Donald Trump as you can get on this planet.

I've heard there have been some developments over the last 10 days that did not go well for Donnie,"

The host ripped Trump's 71-minute press conference.

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[caption id="attachment_1555275" align="aligncenter" width="800"] ‘The Late Show’ graphic (screengrab)[/caption]

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Texas Republicans are abandoning the state’s GOP Speaker: ‘We no longer support him’

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Some of the most powerful Texas House Republicans said Monday they no longer support GOP Speaker Dennis Bonnen, marking the biggest blow yet to his political future amid the fallout from a secret recording released last week by a hardline conservative activist.

Five Republicans considered senior members of the lower chamber issued a statement withdrawing support for him: State Reps. Four Price of Amarillo, Dan Huberty of Houston, Lyle Larson of San Antonio, Chris Paddie of Marshall and John Frullo of Lubbock.

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Donald Trump is making a mockery of Marco Rubio — and the Florida senator is letting him

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Sen. Marco Rubio was once one of Donald Trump’s most formidable opponents; now, the Florida senator bends over backward to excuse the president’s corruption.

In 2016, Rubio and Trump sparred frequently on the Republican primary debate stage. Trump picked the uninspired nickname “Little Marco” for the senator, which didn’t seem to do much damage on its own, but Rubio never gained the momentum or strength that his backers hoped would prove to be strong enough to take down the reality TV candidate. As Rubio grew desperate, he launched one of his most memorable and pitiful attacks by stooping to his opponent’s level, implying that Trump had a small penis. It was more of an embarrassing moment for Rubio than anyone else, though Trump helped himself with a crude rejoinder.

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