This past November marked ten years since Colorado voters voted yes to recreational marijuana, making the state the first in the nation to legalize the drug. Since then, 20 other states and Washington, D.C. have approved similar initiatives. By 2021, taxable weed generated $2.2 billion in revenue for the state.
Statistics tell a more in-depth tale:
- Over time, marijuana arrests fell 68% from 2012-2019 (13,225 to 4,290). Legalization reduced possession and sales charges with a smaller percentage of arrests involving pot production.
- Court cases involving misdemeanor and petty offenses involving marijuana also decreased by 55% during the same time period.
- Charges involving the Colorado Organized Crime Control Act increased from 31 in 20212 to 119 in 2017. By 2019, the number was down to 34.
- Plants seized on public property went from a high of more than 46,000 in 2012 to a low of 1,502 in 2018.
- Out-of-state seizures peaked at 673 in 2017 before dropping to 266 in 2019.
Pot-related criminal activity continues
On the federal level, the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) Domestic Cannabis Eradication/Suppression Program set a new record of arrests involving trafficking in 2018 and 2019, totaling more than 57,000 indoor plants seized over the past 14 years.
Colorado State Patrol reported an increase in DUIs from 12% in 2014 to 31% in 2020. Specific citations of just marijuana increased from 6.3% in 2014 to 8.7% in 2020. Those who chose to combine alcohol with pot and subsequently cited grew from 5.7% in 2014 to 22.7% in 2020.
Fatal motor vehicle accidents where a driver tested positive for marijuana grew from 55 in 2013 to 132 in 2019, representing a troubling 140% increase.
While the history of legal cannabis is still being written, purported illegal activities can lead to serious criminal charges. Following an arrest, help from a skilled attorney can make a significant difference in potentially minimizing the consequences suspects face.