Colorado releases findings of marijuana’s impact on the state

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A new report shows the role played by marijuana legalization in Colorado; could fuel federal approval

A new report on how marijuana is forcing changes in the Colorado landscape has been released. The “Impacts on Marijuana Legalization in Colorado” was published by the Colorado Division of Criminal Justice Office of Research and Statistics and analyzed data on everything from crime to hospitalizations and from state use to the effect the natural plant has on youth.

The report (in pdf) shows that felony marijuana court filings declined from 2008 to 2014. The filings, which include crimes related to conspiracy, manufacturing, possession with the intent to sell or distribute, saw an uptick briefly from 2015 to 2017 before settling back down. However, the overall number of filings across the period declined from 1,431 in 2008 to 907 last year.

One of the main arguments against legalized marijuana has been that it would lead to an increase in car crashes. According to the report the number of DUI (driving under the influence) cases where marijuana was involved dropped from 11.6% in 2016 to 7.5% last year. This is in conjunction with an increase in the number of trained “Drug Recognition Experts” from 129 in 2012 to 214 this year.

One area that needs to be addressed in more detail is with hospitalizations. The report shows that the number of exposures reported to the Rocky Mountain Poison and Drug Center increased in 2014, but has been relatively flat since. However, the number of hospitalizations related to marijuana exposure increased steadily.

Another argument against marijuana legalization was the expected tendency for it to be used by more teenagers. According to the findings, the youth marijuana rate has not increased in surveys conducted between 2005 and 2017. In fact, the number of pre-teens trying marijuana for the first time decreased. In 2015, 9.2% indicated that they had tried the drug, but this number dropped to 6.5% last year.

The study shows that virtually every reason opponents try to provide for why marijuana legalization is bad, is wrong. Hopefully, this information will go a long way to shaping policy at the federal level.