Colorado’s Department of Public Safety released a comprehensive 180-page report on the progress of cannabis legalization. Two categories that are not exactly “breaking news” involve the reduction in marijuana-related arrests and the increase in tax revenues from product sales.
Following a successful, voter-approved state constitutional amendment in 2012, Colorado became the first state to allow the sales of recreational cannabis in stores. Tax revenues jumped 473 percent, with 2020 seeing $387 million in taxes, up from $67 million in 2014.
Older people are patronizing these establishments, with 19 percent of adults admitting to using cannabis in the previous 30 days, increasing from 13.4 percent in 2014. In the 65 and older category, the number tripled.
Legalization did not stop arrests, according to data from the study. Between 2012 and 2019, marijuana possession arrests of adults decreased by 71 percent, with other cannabis-related crimes dropping by 68 percent.
Significantly higher increases involve driving while impaired by marijuana where data reveals:
- Arrests where marijuana was one substance that impaired a driver skyrocketed 120% from 2014 to 2020
- Marijana as the sole substance accounted for 8.7% of all DUIs in 2020, up from 6.3% six years ago
- Arrests where marijuana was combined with other substances such as alcohol made up nearly 23% of all DUIs in 2020, an increase from 5.7% in 2014
- Production-related arrests rose 3% from 2014 to 2020
Fatalities were primarily the same, with only a small uptick where drivers tested positives for more than five milligrams per milliliter of whole blood. The year 2016 saw 52, with 2019 having 56. Traffic-related deaths where the substance was prevalent dropped one percent between 2016 and 2019.
Criminal accusations involving legal marijuana are severe despite the drug’s acceptance. Legal help is paramount due to the complexity of the laws, requiring the help of an experienced criminal defense attorney.