Official Report: How Recreational Marijuana Has Affected Colorado
After two years of legal recreation pot use in Colorado, there is now verifiable data to illustrate exactly how recreational marijuana has affected the state of Colorado.
This week, the state released a report that shows a mixed bag of positive and negative effects, based mostly on data from 2014, the first year of marijuana's legalization in Colorado.
The most obvious and noticeable fact is that marijuana crime was down significantly, which makes a great deal of sense, considering the change in the law. Marijuana related traffic fatalities are up while pot use is up across all age brackets. We also learned that the number of youth using marijuana is above the national average.
Here are 15 things we learned from the report.
- The total number of marijuana arrests in the state decreased by 46%.
- Marijuana was responsible for 6% of arrests in 2012, and just 3% in 2014.
- The number of marijuana arrests decreased by 51% for Whites; 33% for Hispanics; and 25% for African‐Americans.
- The total number of marijuana court filings decreased by 81% from 2012 to 2015.
- Court filings for juveniles ages 10 to 17 declined 69% and were down 78% for 19 to 20-year-olds.
- The most common marijuana-related crime in Denver, Colorado's largest city, was burglary, making up 69% of marijuana crimes.
- The number of summons issued for Driving Under the Influence of marijuana or marijuana‐in‐ combination with other drugs decreased 1% between 2014 and 2015 (674 to 665).
- Traffic fatalities involving drug affected drivers increased 55%, from 55 in 2013 to 79 in 2014.
- Marijuana use by adults over age 25 is up from 5% in 2012 to 12% in 2014 while usage in younger adults age 18-25 is up from 21% to 31%.
- The number of hospitalizations related to marijuana use went up from 803 per 100,000 hospitalizations to 2,413 per 100,000. Emergency room visits were also up.
- Youth use of marijuana in Colorado is above the national average.
- The number of juvenile marijuana arrests increased 5%, from 3,234 in 2012 to 3,400 in 2014.
- At the end of 2015, there were 2,538 licensed marijuana businesses in the state with 70% of those in the counties of Denver, El Paso, Boulder, and Pueblo.
- Total revenue from taxes, licenses, and fees increased from $76,152,468 in 2014 to $135,100,465 in 2015 (+77%). Excise tax revenue dedicated to school capital construction assistance was $35,060,590 in 2015.
- In November 2015, there were 109,922 individuals registered as medical marijuana cardholders. The most common conditions reported were severe pain (93%), muscle spasms (20%), and severe nausea (12%).
The report states that these findings could be affected by the "public's decreased stigma" on the use of marijuana. People reporting a possible overdose or ill-effect from marijuana use may feel more comfortable discussing it with hospitals and poison controls.
Additionally, cops have been better trained to detect the use of marijuana during traffic stops, which could lead to an uprise in marijuana-related arrests.
The report asks to take this into consideration while analyzing this data:
For these reasons, these early, baseline findings should be carefully considered in light of the need to continue to collect and analyze relevant data.