5 Things We Now Know After 5 Years of Legal Marijuana in Colorado [FEATURE]

It's been five years since the era of legal marijuana sales began in Colorado, and that's been enough time to begin to be able to see what sorts of impact the freeing of the weed has had on the Rocky Mountain State. From the economy and the fiscal health of the state government to law enforcement and public safety, legalizing marijuana has consequences.

Denver's skyline (Creative Commons)
Thanks to marijuana sales reports and tax revenue reports from the state Department of Revenue, as well as a legislatively mandated biennial report from the Division of Criminal Justice, we can see what some of those consequences are.

1. They sure buy a lot of weed in Colorado, and the state's coffers are filling up with marijuana tax revenues. Total marijuana sales in the state were more than $683 million in 2014—the year legal sales began—and have since more than doubled to more than $1.4 billion last year. Since legalization, the amount of legal weed sold in the state has now topped $6 billion. That's created nearly 20,000 jobs, and it has also generated more than $900 million for the state government in marijuana taxes, licenses, and fees. Tax revenues have increased every year since legalization and those dollars help fund public school projects, as well as human services, public affairs, agriculture, labor and employment, judicial affairs, health care policy, transportation and regulatory affairs. Pot revenues still only account for one percent of state revenues, but every $900 million helps.

2. Marijuana arrests are way down, but black people are still getting busted disproportionately. Even though pot is legalized, there are still ways to get arrested on a marijuana charge, such as possessing more than an ounce or selling or growing unlicensed weed. Still, arrests have declined dramatically, dropping by 56 percent during the legalization era. Both possession and sales offenses declined, but arrests for unlawful production were up markedly, reflecting the state's continuing fight to eliminate the black market. The age group most likely to get busted was 18-20-year-olds, who can only legally use or possess marijuana if they have a medical card. They are getting busted at a rate 30 times that of adults. Arrests are way down among all ethnic/racial groups, but black people are still getting arrested for pot at a rate nearly twice that of whites.

3. Legalization has not led to more traffic fatalities. While the number of car drivers in fatal wrecks had marijuana in their systems has increased dramatically, the report notes that “detection of cannabinoid in blood is not an indicator of impairment but only indicates presence in the system.” Marijuana DUIs were up three percent, but fatal traffic accidents involving marijuana-impaired drivers actually decreased by five percent.

4. Use rates are up slightly among adults, but not among teens. The number of adults who reported using marijuana in the past 30 days has increased by 2 percent, with nearly one-fifth of men reporting past month use. That's almost double the number of women reporting past month use. These are high rates of use compared to the nation as a whole, but the state has always had relatively high use rates, even dating back before legalization. (There is a chicken and egg question here: Do Coloradans like to smoke pot because weed is legal or is weed legal because Coloradans like to smoke pot?) But what about the kids? Well, the kids are alright. Marijuana use rates among middle and high school students have been unchanged since legalization, and so have graduation rates.

5. Emergency room visits linked to marijuana increased. Some 575 people presented to hospitals with marijuana-related problems back in 2000, but that number jumped to more than 3,500 by 2016. Emergency room visits and calls to poison control centers were both up. It's important to note, however, that the vast majority of marijuana-related ER visits are related to panic or anxiety reactions and end with the patient eventually calming down and going home. Marijuana ER visits are not life-The rise is also likely a function of new, naive users, especially of edibles, biting off more than they can chew.

Permission to Reprint: This article is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license.
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"The kids are alright?"

Surely anyone can see the lower rates of teen use are due to the ongrowth of the fearmongering "drug"-test "industry".  The new "high" tech basis of prohibition 2.0!

This is usually excused by saying that THC (now more plentiful than before) is somehow harmful to the development of a young person's brain.  Think again.  Think how many articles about cannabis you have seen that were headed by a photo of a JOINT or someone smoking a JOINT.  Free advertising for what?  Massive overdose exposure (500-mg per lightup) to carbon monnoxide and thousands of combustion toxins of which over 50 are proven to be carcinogenic!  What does that do the a developing brain?  But it gets blamed on the cannabis, or on someone's least favorite cannabinoid.

Having given this some thought, I decided the best remedy was to allow everyone to experience herb, but through a serving modality which protects against toxins and overdose-- the one-hitter.  But there are adjustments needed, due to the fact that under prohibition the chief advantage of a one-hitter was continually represented as being its "discreetness"-- i.e. short as a $iggerette, ease of concealment from the cop or your mom.  To light a store-bought one-hitter, for example, because they are so short (easy to hide, huh), you have to bring the lighter up near your face where your eyes can't focus, creating a need to get the lighting over with quickly (heat, combustion) rather than hold it for several seconds an inch below the loaded screened crater slowly drawing in the 350F air for vaporization.

The answer is to attach a footlong flexible DRAWTUBE to the butt end of the device so you can light it at reading distance from your eyes, control the entry temperature, and achieve vaporization instead of combustion, nutrition instead of Brain Damage!

Under legalization surely possession of a brown tube containing cannabinoid residues will no longer be the pretext for an arrest for possession of forbidden herb, therefore the need to worry about keeping the equipment small and concealable falls away and everyone (any age, ethnicity or gender) can load in a 25-mg MICROTOKE and enact the brainprotective Vapetoke Technique:

Hold half-inch flame an inch below,

sucki smooooooooth, slow,

don't start any glow

till after 9-19 seconds or so.

Afterwards breathe 30 warm wet W's in and out of a Breathbonnet (breadbag or equivalent) in pursuit of safe efficient economical nutrient absorption.

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