When cannabis was legalized in Colorado, detractors said it would increase teen use, reduce graduation rates, and lead to an uptick in crime and car accidents. Meanwhile, pro-marijuana advocates were quick to point out the many potential benefits: increased tax revenue, better funding for schools, and a reduction in crime, to name a few.
This Fall, the Colorado Division of Criminal Justice released its 2018 Marijuana Impact Report, a study that began in 2013 as a way to assess the impacts of cannabis legalization. Sources include the Colorado Bureau of Investigation, the Colorado Hospital Association, and the Rocky Mountain Poison and Drug Center. The report is expected to serve as a baseline to help identify what regulatory efforts are working and where additional research, resources, or policies may be needed.
The results of the study are seen by many consumers and cannabis businesses as highly favorable. Instead of the negative impact many marijuana opponents claimed were inevitable, legalization may be benefiting the state in ways even advocates hadn’t anticipated. And many of the fears around legal weed are proving unfounded.
Youth Marijuana Use Did NOT Increase
The report found no increase in marijuana use among youths.
- The number of suspensions, expulsions, and referrals to law enforcement has remained steady post-legalization.
- The 2015/2016 youth marijuana rate (9.1%) was the lowest it’s been since 2007/2008 (9.1%).
- The rate of youths who report cannabis use (ever in their lifetime or in the past 30 days) is statistically unchanged since 2005.
Thanks to thoughtful legislation, public education, retail practices, law enforcement training, and enforcement, Colorado has shown that legalization doesn’t mean increased use among young people.
High School Graduation Rates Did NOT Decrease
Graduation rates are actually up from 72% in 2012 to 79% for the 2016-2017 school year. Meanwhile, the drop-out rate decreased from 3.1% to 2.3%. While we can’t say these positive changes are the result of legalization alone, it does suggest that the increased school funding from marijuana tax revenue is having a very real and very positive impact on kids in Colorado.
Marijuana DUI Citations Are Down
More law enforcement officers have been trained to recognize drug use than pre-legalization. With increasing drug detection rates and greater availability of marijuana products, many people assumed weed-related DUIs would spike after legalization.
While marijuana DUIs make up a higher percentage of total DUI arrests than they did five years ago, marijuana (and marijuana-in-combination) DUI citations are actually down an incredible 15% from 2014 to 2017.
Marijuana impairment as the only cause of impairment accounts for just 7% of all DUI arrests (350 of 5,000 citations).
Marijuana Arrests Are Down
Total marijuana arrests dropped by 52% between 2012 and 2017. In that same period, marijuana possession arrests dropped by 51% and arrests for illegal marijuana sales decreased by 17%.
The Denver Police Department’s Data Analysis Unit shows an even more profound decrease, with marijuana arrests down an incredible 81%.
It isn’t all gravy, though. Arrests for marijuana production increased 51%, with a significant spike in pot grown on public land. And hospitalizations linked to possible marijuana consumption has climbed steadily from 2000 to 2015.
Taken as a whole, the 2018 Marijuana Impact Report looks extremely favorable for the cannabis industry. Many of the negatives people feared—and many of the arguments anti-marijuana groups may use to fight against legalization in their states—simply haven’t come to pass in Colorado.
Tax revenue is up, graduation rates are up, underage drug use didn’t increase, marijuana DUIs are down, total cannabis arrests are down, and the public is better educated than ever on the benefits and risks of marijuana use.
You can read the full report online.
Marijuana WINpact Report, More Like It
Just when you think legal weed can’t get any better, it goes and increases the graduation rate while lowering marijuana DUIs.
With marijuana tax revenue going to such good use supporting education and law enforcement, it would almost be rude not to buy weed…
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