The Colorado Department of Public Safety has issued a report showing the effects of legalizing marijuana in the state. This is the first official report, combining data from local, state and federal sources.
With regards to public safety, arrests related to marijuana dropped by nearly half between 2012 and 2014. Possession and sales of the drug were cut by 24%.
El Paso County tallied a 30% decrease in marijuana-related arrests, but recorded an increase in overall use.
In demographics, cannabis use increased by 10% for the 18-25 bracket, from 21% in 2006 to 31% in 2014. Those over the age of 26 also saw a slight rise in use.
Among high school teens, marijuana use dipped from 23% in 2005 to under 20% in 2013. On the other hand, 41% of school expulsions during 2014-2015 was attributed to drug use.
Hospital visits related to marijuana have tripled. Before legalization, there were over 800 per 100,000 patients. The number has since jumped to 2,400 in 100,000. DPS also noted that the cannabis-related cases only showed signs of possible use.
An article from Forbes by Jacob Sullum states the following tentative conclusions: de-criminalizing an act equals fewer criminals, legal marijuana use seems to have no effect on crime rates, there is no concrete evidence of how legalization affects traffic safety, cannabis consumption is higher – or perhaps users are more honest about it, the effects of legalizing cannabis use is unclear in teenagers, marijuana mentions in medical records have become more frequent, availability of marijuana raises poison control calls, and “respecting human rights means respecting human choices.”
Colorado passed the Colorado Amendment 64 in 2012, legalizing the personal use of marijuana for recreational purposes. While regulated across its counties, the law has put Colorado on the map, so far as to draw a “marijuana tourism” crowd.