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Pot Legalization Brings Struggling New Arrivals to Pueblo, Colorado

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John Wark
/
AP photo

The southern Colorado town of Pueblo was once an industrial town, a steelworker’s stronghold. But after the steel market crashed in 1982, the town had trouble recovering. Until now. The legalization of marijuana has led to a massive influx of new visitors, and many of them are coming to stay, reports The Guardian

Many of the new arrivals come from Southern states that oppose the expansion of Medicaid. In Colorado, they hope to find a new home and a job in the booming pot industry--with accompanying health care. Unfortunately, the good life in Colorado isn’t so easy to come by. On a recent weekday, the line at a local charity that provides food to the poor stretched around the block. “I call it the pot rush,” said the charity’s director. “Many people leave stable situations and maybe even have housing vouchers where they’re from. But they hear about Pueblo on the internet and how it’s this cheap place to live. They think they can find jobs. They uproot their kids. And then they don’t have money for a rental deposit or much else when they get here.”

The arrival of so many struggling immigrants is an unintended—and unpredicted—consequence of the marijuana boom. There is much disagreement on both sides of the debate about whether these new arrivals are helping or hurting the economy.