Cannabis in Colorado: Myth Busting
There were a lot of doomsday predictions when our home state of Colorado voted to legalize recreational marijuana. Reefer madness!Now, with five years under our belts, it’s time to tackle the myths surrounding legalization.
Myth: Legalization Dramatically Increases Marijuana Use.
Facts: Adult cannabis use in Colorado has risen only modestly since legalization. The individuals who before used it illicitly are now using state-regulated dispensaries. Teen use has declined slightly. In fact, high school graduation rates rose by 7% and drop-out rates lowered by 0.8% from 2010 to 2017.
Myth: Legalization Threatens Public Health.
Facts: Colorado has a strong public health reporting and response system in place and is therefore able to counter possible health issues. One example was properly labeling edible serving sizes to help consumers avoid accidental over-consumption.
Cannabis also provides an alternative form of pain management; research suggests that legalization significantly reduces opioid-related deaths. In Colorado, the rising trend in opioid deaths halted after legalization. The Centers for Disease Control &Prevention includes Xanax, morphine, hydrocodone, and amphetamine in its list of drugs most often causing overdose. Cannabis is not included. Research suggests that alcohol is the most harmful drug to society!
Myth:Legalization Creates Crime.
Facts: Overall crime rates in Colorado have remained fairly stable since 2010. DUI citations, cannabinoid-positive driver fatalities, and marijuana-related crimes have decreased (with the exception of crackdowns against organized/black market crime). The effectiveness of the police in solving other crimes, such as violent crimes and burglaries, has increased. Colorado is not perfect, but marijuana legalization has not created a spike in crime.
Myth: Legalization Did Not Affect Colorado’s Economy.
Facts: Our own city of Trinidad, Colorado, has transformed since marijuana became law. As described in CNN, we were an “abyss of nothingness;” now, we are Weed Town, U.S.A., with 26 licensed retail dispensaries. Colorado’s total tax and fee revenue from marijuana between 2014 and 2018 was over $900 million. Roughly $40-50 million goes to public school construction and education projects each year. Legalization has significantly augmented the economy of Colorado, especially our home city!
Fiction can be fun, but we find the reference section more enlightening. We are proud of our home state of Colorado for pioneering legalization. Beyond the myths, legalization transformed our home city of Trinidad and boosted the entire state.