Five Years Of Legal Weed, What Have Learned?
Yesterday marked the 5th anniversary of when Coloradans voted to legalize recreational cannabis. What do we know now that we didn't know then?
Having lived here in the great state of Colorado for only 16 months, I'm certainly not an expert on the topic so I'll lean on those that are. What I discovered was interesting, I think you will too.
1) There has been no increase in underage use. According to the Colorado Department of Public Health, only 21% of youths said they had used weed in the past 30 days. That report was from 2015 and that's actually below the national average of 25%. Teen use in Colorado has actually fallen 4% since 2009. I recall as a kid, part of the allure was the "contraband" aspect of the thing. Doing something rebellious and "cool" was part of the attraction. Now that's legal, perhaps it's not.
2) Arrests have dropped dramatically. Makes sense, right? Hard to bust people if it's not against the law. There have been dozens of large illegal grows busted recently but overall crime associated with weed is way down. in fact, according to the Drug Policy Alliance, arrests in Colorado for possession, cultivation, and distribution is down 95% since voters approved the recreational sale.
3) There's been no increase in traffic deaths. A study published this summer in the American Journal of Public Health found that in the three years since recreational sales, deadly vehicle crash rates for Colorado have been basically unchanged from before.
4) Violent crime fell. In both states, Washinton and Colorado, after cannabis legalization passed violent crime dropped. It makes since. If you take the away illegal activity associated with the sale, crime rates should fall. Drug Policy Alliance reports that in the years after recreational weed sales started, overall property crime has dropped by nearly 9% statewide.
5) $$$'s in tax revenue. The state’s legal weed sales started on January 1st, 2014. Since then, the state has collected over $500 million in recitational and medial revenue. The dollars that once went to illegal activity is now going towards education and other programs.