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Marijuana and the Most Creative Cities

Amsterdam (photo: Moyan_Brenn / flickr)

While correlation is not causation, I think it is interesting that the top ranked cities for creativity all have extremely tolerant attitudes toward marijuana use. According to the Richard Florida in his new book, The Rise of the Creative Class–Revisited: 10th Anniversary Edition, the most creative city in America is Boulder, Colorado. In second place is San Francisco, California. These are arguably two of the most weed friendly cities in America.

Similarly, among non-American locations Florida ranked Amsterdam in the Netherlands as the most creative city. Amsterdam is well known for its marijuana coffee shops and effectively having marijuana be defacto legal for decades.

I’m not trying to claim marijuana use is what made these cities creative, but I think it does perfectly highlight a point I have previously made about the Netherlands. It again shows that tolerating marijuana use doesn’t do any significant damage to a society. Being very tolerant towards cannabis use clearly hasn’t prevented these cities from being extremely prosperous, innovative, successful, and desirable places to live.

Technically the supposed justification for our marijuana prohibition is that its use is so dangerous to society we must criminalize it. Not only has prohibition failed to stop people from using marijuana given that the United States actually has higher rates of use than the Netherlands; but also there is no evidence that places that tolerate marijuana use are hurt by this in any significant way.

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Jon Walker

Jon Walker

Jonathan Walker grew up in New Jersey. He graduated from Wesleyan University in 2006. He is an expert on politics, health care and drug policy. He is also the author of After Legalization and Cobalt Slave, and a Futurist writer at