The Legalization of Marijuana in Colorado: The Impact (Vol. 3)

marijuanaincoThe Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (RMHIDTA) recently published a 3rd Volume of its report on the impact of marijuana legalization in Colorado. The Rocky Mountain HIDTA worked in concert with more than 30 organizations to evaluate the effects marijuana legalization has had and is having on Colorado residents. The Report examines data from 2006 to present, highlighting changes that occurred during each phase of Colorado’s legalization progression and specifically examining the impacts across key areas, including impaired driving, use of marijuana by both adults and youth, hospital visits relating to the use of marijuana, and exposure cases.  The Report’s findings include:

  • In 2014, when retail marijuana businesses began operating, there was a 32 percent increase in marijuana-related traffic deaths in just one year from 2013.
  • Probationers ages 18 to 25 and 26+ years old testing positive for marijuana increased 49 and 87 percent respectively since marijuana was legalized in 2013.
  • Drug-related suspensions/expulsions increased 40 percent from school years 2008/2009 to 2013/2014. The vast majority were marijuana violations.
  • During 2013–2014, when recreational marijuana was legalized, the yearly average interdiction seizures of Colorado marijuana increased another 34 percent from 242 to 324.
  • From 2006–2008, compared to 2013–2014, the average number of seized parcels containing Colorado marijuana that were destined for outside the United States increased over 7,750 percent, and pounds of marijuana seized in those parcels increased over 1,079 percent.
  • Denver has more licensed medical marijuana centers (198) than pharmacies (117).

Click here to review the final report.

The Rocky Mountain HIDTA’s reports have significantly added to the findings of the Police Foundation’s and Colorado Chiefs of Police Association’s earlier report, Colorado’s Legalization of Marijuana and the Impact on Public Safety: A Practical Guide for Law Enforcement.

The Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area was established in 1996 and is one of 28 HIDTA’s covering counties in Colorado, Montana, Utah, and Wyoming. The High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Program (HIDTA) is an important component of the President’s National Drug Control Strategy which provides additional federal resources to those areas to help eliminate or reduce drug trafficking and its harmful consequences. Law enforcement organizations within HIDTAs assess drug trafficking problems and design specific initiatives to reduce or eliminate the production, manufacture, transportation, distribution and chronic use of illegal drugs and money laundering “reduce drug trafficking & related crime and violence.”