Legal Weed Has Changed Colorado Forever
5 Years into the "great experiment" here's what we know.
It all started on January 1st, 2014 when the first dispensaries opened their doors. That first year they sold, what seemed at the time, a staggering $683 million in both medical and recreational marijuana. When the 2018 totals are finally tallied that number is excepted to be a whopping $1.5 billion!
The tax revenue numbers are impressive as well. Back in year one, that total was $67 million. In 2017 the total take was $247.4 million! That accounts for about 1% of the states total fiscal annual budget. That money went to not just public schools as some may believe. Colorado's human services, public affairs, agriculture, labor and employment, judicial affairs, health care policy, transportation and regulatory affairs departments have all benefited from the additional tax revenue.
All the news isn't as upbeat. According to the Colorado Department of Criminal Justice report, DUI citations with marijuana-impaired drivers have increased by 3%. Included in the arrest information from 2016, 73% of those drivers tested positive for THC. The number of auto-related fatalities with THC positive drivers has increased by 153%. There were just 55 in 2013. That number was 139 in 2017. Interesting too is that while the number of marijuana traffic citations has increased, the number of DUI citations has decreased from 5,705 in 2014 to 4,849 in 2017.
Another concern was legal weed's impact on students. Recent reports show that there's actually been an increase in Colorado's high school graduation rates. They also show no change in the number of middle school and high school students reporting using the drug.
Who's partaking? Adults 21 and up reportedly using weed has increased about 2% in the last 5 years. The number of Colorado males who say they've used in the last 30 days is about 20%. That's almost twice as many of women reportedly who have used at 11%.