Legalization in Colorado — A Year Later
The first year of Marijuana legalization in Colorado is history. What happened and what can the rest of the country learn from the Colorado experience?
First, let’s note what did not happen! In no particular order —
Teen use did not increase
Pot-fueled auto deaths did not increase
Crime did not increase
The sky did not fall
By any objective measure, the overall impact of legalized marijuana has been positive and the dire warnings of the prohibitionist folks have proved unfounded. In fact, the outcomes in Colorado should put a smile on the face of even the most dour of our prohibitionistic brethren. Let’s look at a few of the most often cited concerns around legalization.
Teen Use — Despite the prediction teen use would increase, the opposite may have occurred. The rate of teen use has decreased and Colorado’s rate of teen use is below the national average. National studies have confirmed that teen use in states after approval of medical marijuana did not increase.
Drugged Driving Rates — After marijuana legalization, highway deaths in Colorado are at historic lows. The decreasing highway death rate in Colorado after legalization, buttresses similar findings from other parts of the country. Forbes magazine summarized the findings in an April article entitled “More Pot, Safer Roads: Marijuana Legalization Could Bring Unexpected Benefits.”
Crime Rates — Previous studies have found that like teen use, crime rates do not increase as a result of medical marijuana approval. Denver’s violent crime rate has decreased in the past year, a development that should be welcomed by all.
The Marijuana business has been an economic boom for Colorado with jobless rates down, national corporations moving headquarters’ operations to Colorado, and a windfall of marijuana tax revenue supporting a variety of state services.
With all the positive outcomes, most notable is the crippling of cartel operations as a result of having their number one product legalized. It is no surprise that violent crime in Denver has declined as a significant percentage of criminal violence is related to the illegal drug market.