Colorado was the very first state in the nation to allow marijuana to be sold at stores for recreational purposes.
Now over seven years later, a new report has been released from the state Department of Public Safety, which is required by law to study the impacts of cannabis legalization.
The 180-page report has a statistical analyst from the department’s Division of Criminal Justice painstakingly go through the numbers to provide the most comprehensive summary available about what has happened since 2012 when Colorado voters approved legalizing possession and sales of small amounts of marijuana.
Analyst Jack Reed remarked in the report, “The lack of pre-commercialization data, the decreasing social stigma, and challenges to law enforcement combine to make it difficult to translate these preliminary findings into definitive statements of outcomes.”
According to the data, the total number of arrests of adults for marijuana-related crimes decreased by 68% between 2012 and 2019. Arrests for marijuana possession dropped by 71%, while arrests related to marijuana production increased by 3%.
Reed found that arrests for white individuals decreased by 72%, while arrests for people who are Hispanic declined by only 55% and arrests for people who are Black declined by 63%.
The number of court filings charging a violation of the Colorado Organization Crime Control Act related to marijuana also rose after legalization, from 31 in 2009 to 119 in 2017. But they declined to 34 in 2019.
The number of DUI summonses issued by the Colorado State Patrol in which marijuana was listed as at least one of the impairing substances also had a jump of 120% between 2014 and 2020, and cases involving just marijuana rose to 8.7% of all DUIs in 2020, from 6.3% of all DUIs in 2014.
DUIs involving marijuana in combination with other substances such as alcohol grew to 22.7% of all DUIs in 2020, from 5.7% of all DUIs in 2014.
Fatalities involving marijuana-impaired drivers had remained flat but there was a slight increase in the number of fatalities in which a driver tested positive for more than 5 milligrams of Delta-9 THC, marijuana’s intoxicating compound, per milliliter of whole blood.
Reed also found that the percentage of adults who reported using cannabis in the prior 30 days rose to 19% in 2019, from 13.4% in 2014. But usage among people ages 65 and older had tripled.