Homeless People Come to Colorado for the Weed? Ha!
Geeks that we are, we checked with USClimateData.com for the average winter temperatures in Denver, Colorado.
Turns out, the old mercury hovers from an average of 17 degrees Fahrenheit in January. That's cold.
And by the way it snows an average of 7" in January in the Mile High City. If you're homeless in Denver, in January, it's 17 degrees and it starts to snow, you probably look to heaven and say "That's COLD!"
You'll also see from the chart here that the temperature stays below freezing, on average, until March.
So we ask you, Dear Readers, does any thoughtful person really believe that homeless people are coming TO Colorado because cannabis is legal?
Seriously? No weed in Florida? California?
Some say cannabis is the cause of homelessness in Colorado, citing "Since recreational legislation was implemented in 2013, the state has seen an 8% uptick in homelessness."
The real question is: Is cannabis' legalization causative, or coincidental?
"The state’s economic boom has led to an influx of over 100,000 new residents just in 2015. Aside from the legal cannabis industry, Colorado’s relatively low unemployment rate and access to healthcare have helped contribute to this mass migration. Marijuana tourism ha alsos caused occupancy rates in hotels to skyrocket, leaving even the low-cost options too expensive for those struggling to just get by..."
In other words, people are motivated to come to Colorado for very normal reasons - jobs, healthcare, the natural environment.... and below fifth place by the way, legal weed. And some get crushed by circumstances and end up on the street, where they are often arrested.
Governor Hickenlooper commented,
"I would say [to sheriffs], the homeless are not the thing you've got to worry about. We've got black market traffickers, they seem to be coming from other states and they are criminals. We will provide you with the money. Let's focus our efforts on them, rather than putting in jail people that are homeless because it seems convenient." ***
(So Colorado cops are putting homeless in jail because they don't run as fast as drug dealers? That sounds uncharitable.)
*** Some want to add, "The potential impact of cannabis use on people with mental illnesses has also been a cause for concern", though others ask the chicken/egg question here: do people with mental illness use cannabis seeking relief (absolutely), or does cannabis cause mental illness (not so clear).
So let's put this legal cannabis-attracts homeless people nonsense to rest, shall we?
Donald Burnes, a scholar-in-residence at the University of Denver who runs the Burnes Center on Poverty and Homelessness, told MERRY JANE in March that all available data shows that the Centennial State has seen no significant increase in homelessness since cannabis legalization.
"Over the last three to four years, there has not been a major increase in the numbers of people coming into Colorado who are homeless," said Burnes to MERRY JANE. "The percentage of the total population experiencing homelessness who come from out-of-state has remained very constant — basically 14 to 15 percent."