Public Administration ETDs

Publication Date



In 2012, voters in Colorado and Washington State voted to legalize marijuana for recreational use. These states have the challenging task of creating and implementing a policy framework with which to regulate the now legal cultivation, distribution, and use of marijuana. This is a considerable task due to the lack of precedent and information regarding the issue, and because of the intergovernmental issues involved. This thesis focuses on the issue in regard to local governments in Colorado. The goal of this thesis is to gain a better understanding of the adoption of RME and barriers to the implementation processes of RME in local governments in Colorado. In order to gain this understanding, a survey of city and county managers and administrators across Colorado was conducted. The survey acted as a status check' of where localities are in the decision making process and sought to gain information about the policy adoption and implementation processes thus far. Existing public policy implementation literature was used as a foundation for the survey questions. The results of the survey indicated that most respondents have made a decision on operation of RME and that a majority have banned them. Further analysis indicated that those local governments that have smaller populations, and are classified as rural and Republican, are more likely to have banned RME. Those localities that do not allow the operation of medical marijuana establishments (MME) are likely to have banned the operation of RME, and vice versa—those localities that do allow the operation of MME are more likely to allow the operation of RME. This indicates these local governments are working incrementally in changing their marijuana policies. In regards to the implementation process, it appears many different local government departments will be involved in planning and enforcement, but there is no great concern about fiscal issues. Additionally, with respect to potential intergovernmental conflict, there seems a fairly low degree of concern among local government respondents regarding potential federal government enforcement actions.'

Degree Name

Public Administration

Level of Degree


Department Name

School of Public Administration

First Committee Member (Chair)

Edwardson, Nicholas

Second Committee Member

Scicchitano, Michael




recreational marijuana, public policy implementation, local governments, Colorado

Document Type