In the last decade, Colorado has seen the explosion of the marijuana industry. The Colorado marijuana industry boasts the strongest marijuana on earth ―a 20-30-percent level of Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the primary ingredient in marijuana. This is a dramatic increase from the 1-2 percent of THC in the marijuana of the 1970's.
In November 2000, Colorado voters approved Initiative 20, which legalized marijuana for medical purposes and allowed for the licensing of medical marijuana dispensaries, cultivation operations and manufacturing of marijuana edibles for medical purposes.
In November 2012, Colorado voters legalized recreational marijuana, allowing individuals to use and possess one ounce of marijuana and grow up to six plants. The 2012 amendment also permits the licensing of marijuana retail stores, cultivation operations, marijuana "edible factories" and testing facilities.http://www.rmhidta.org/html/2014%20Legalization%20of%20Marijuana.pdf (2014 report) (Voters in Washington State also approved recreational marijuana in 2012.)
The first official stores in Colorado opened in 2014, and the results are not what voters had expected:
- There has been a sharp increase in pot-related calls to poison control;
- Two deaths so far are attributed to marijuana use or overdoses;
- Neighboring states are experiencing a surge in pot use; and
- Advertising through every available medium blankets the Centennial State, desensitizing people to the risks.
As more states look at legalizing the sale and use of marijuana, Colorado offers a disturbing preview of what may be in store for them. In all likelihood, legalized marijuana represents the creation of a new equivalent to the tobacco industry of yesteryear. As tobacco has become less socially acceptable and states and municipalities are searching for new sources of revenue, marijuana is quickly becoming an industry poised to replace ―and even surpass ―where tobacco once reigned.
Perhaps most troubling aspect is the reality that marijuana has infiltrated Colorado schools, which now have lists of young people waiting to get help in treatment programs. Teens using pot face nearly twice the risk of addiction as adult users, and juvenile usage also increases the brain damage associated with the drug.
The following information will give you a glimpse into where other states could be headed if they follow in Colorado's footsteps:
- http://www.rmhidta.org/html/FINAL%20Legalization%20of%20MJ%20in%20Colorado%20The%20Impact.pdf (2013 Colorado report)
- http://www.rmhidta.org/html/2014%20Legalization%20of%20Marijuana.pdf (2014 Colorado report)
Facts About Legalized Marijuana In Colorado
- Colorado has more than 1 million square feet of commercial marijuana being grown within its borders
- This isn't your parents' marijuana. The Colorado marijuana industry boasts the strongest marijuana on earth with 20-30 percent THC compared to 1-2 percent in the 1970's.
- THC potency has risen from an average of 3.96 percent in 1995 to an average of 12.33 percent in 2013.http://www.rmhidta.org/html/2014%20Legalization%20of%20Marijuana.pdf
- After voters legalized marijuana, the state initiated a number of public relations efforts, including "Don't Be a Lab Rat" to deter teens from using it;http://gazette.com/weed-101-colorado-tries-neighborly-marijuana-education/article/1544055 the "Good to Know," campaign,http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2015/01/05/colorado-marijuana-campaign/21300293/ aimed at educating residents and tourists "how to responsibly use marijuana" and a $1 million state Department of Transportation television ad campaign, trying to discourage driving while high on marijuana.http://www.denverpost.com/marijuana/ci_25286406/colorado-launches-campaign-stop-stoned-driving
- Infiltrating Schools: In Pueblo, Colorado three elementary school girls were busted for having weed in school. When questioned, they answered that they brought it from home because "weed is cool and it's legal"http://kdvr.com/2014/02/22/girls-caught-with-marijuana-at-school-in-pueblo/
- Welfare Abuse: An investigative report by a Denver TV station found that in the first month of legal pot sales, there were more than 50 incidents of welfare recipients using their state-issued welfare debit card to get cash at ATM's inside marijuana retail stores.http://kdvr.com/2014/02/19/welfare-cash-pulled-from-atms-inside-colorado-pot-shops/
- Use of Harder Drugs on Rise: Colorado has seen an uptick in heroin use since 2000 – the year medical marijuana was legalized. There is a strong correlation between legalizing a gateway drug, such as marijuana, and the acceptance it gives to other drugs.http://www.denverpost.com/ci_20823072/heroin-and-other-opiate-use-rising-colorado-figures; http://www.denverpost.com/news/ci_25055825/colorado-ski-towns-see-rise-heroin-deaths-and
- Declining Academic Performance: Academic learning and problem-solving skills are being suppressed due to marijuana use.http://www.educationviews.org/marijuana-influences-academic-performance/; http://www.rmhidta.org/html/2014%20Legalization%20of%20Marijuana.pdf
- Kids in Treatment: The largest youth treatment program in the state reports 95 percent of the kids are in treatment due to marijuana use. In fact, the program has a waiting list for admission.
- Uptick in Consumption: More than 20 percent of Colorado's users consume marijuana almost daily ― compared to only 17 percent nationally. That is 35.29 percent higher than the national average.
- "Pot Tourism": Nearly 44 percent of recreational marijuana — which is taxed far more heavily than medical marijuana — is used by out-of-state visitors; in the mountain regions, that number can be as high as 90 percent.
- Its No Longer Just a "Party" Drug: Occasional users (less than once a month) account for only 0.3 percent of the total marijuana market; the rest is made up of "heavy daily users."
As Colorado continues to analyze the data in the aftermath of legalizing marijuana, some key negative findings are being reported:http://www.rmhidta.org/html/2014%20Legalization%20of%20Marijuana.pdf
- Impaired Driving: While overall traffic fatalities decreased by 14.8 percent (from 2007 to 2012), fatalities involving operators testing positive for marijuana increased by a whopping 100 percent.
- Youth Marijuana Use: In 2012, around 10 percent of youth, ages 12 to 17, were considered current marijuana users, compared to 7.55 percent nationally. Colorado, which ranks 4th in the nation, was 39 percent higher than the national average. Drug-related suspensions/expulsions in schools increased 32 percent.
- Crime: Overall, crime in Denver increased 6.7 percent from the first six months of 2013 to the first six months of 2014.
- Homelessness: Denver homeless shelters attribute marijuana legalization to the increase of homeless adults and youth.https://www.focusonthefamily.com/socialissues/family/marijuana-the-big-picture/colorado-a-marijuana-case-study
- Large Portions Of The Population Are Using Marijuana: There are an estimated 485,000 Colorado adult regular (considered at least one "use" per month) marijuana users ― or 9 percent of the total Colorado population.
- More Heavy Users: (consuming marijuana almost daily) make up the top 21.8 percent of the user population; however, they account for nearly 67 percent of the demand.
For these statistics and more like them, please read the entire report.
The Rocky Mountain High Intensive Trafficking Area (RMHIDTA) has released two reports on Colorado's marijuana experiment located at: http://www.rmhidta.org/default.aspx/MenuItemID/687/MenuGroup/RMHIDTAHome.htm