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Education and Employment Is High in Cannabis-Friendly States

New research contradicts fears that legalization causes chaos.


The worries over legalized cannabis are slowly eroding with each new round of facts and figures. Civic data curated by LiveStories looked into trends and figures around Alaska, Colorado, Oregon and Washington post-legalization. The review found that education and employment numbers appear stronger in the four states than most others.

Prasit photo | Getty Images

Not Getting Dumber

According to the analysis, each state maintained consistent levels when it came to education, as of 2016. Notably, Colorado continued to rank high in residents with college degrees (34.3 percent, second in the nation) despite being the first state to approve getting high recreationally. Alaska finished last amongst the four with 24.48 percent, still well above the lowest in the nation, West Virginia, with 17.58 percent.

Related: Survey Finds Cannabis Users Are Educated, Fit, Sociable and Surprisingly Republican

Less Unemployment

Since legalization, each state has seen a sizable drop in unemployment. Colorado, Oregon, and Washington each saw massive unemployment declines of 50 percent or more. Meanwhile, Alaska experienced a modest drop-off. Unemployment numbers could be in further decline when 2018 figures are released as the current number sits around 3.9 percent. However, with workers quitting at rates not seen since the early 2000s, an uptick in unemployment may be present when the latest data becomes available.

Related: Marijuana Industry to Create 283,000 Jobs by 2020, Report Projects

The LiveStories analysis provided several other takeaways that help further dispel the "gateway drug" theory from the Just Say No campaign of the 1980s. Additional information found that tobacco use is steadily on the decline, with Colorado, Oregon and Washington below the U.S. average. Also, in what may be a telling sign, each state fell below the national average for opioid deaths.

Does this mean cannabis legalization is good for a state? It appears that way. Moreover, the long-held worries over cannabis once again seem to be misguided -- and that’s an excellent start.

Related: States Ask Congress to Allow Cannabis Access to Banks