Most of us remember vividly that November of 2012 when Colorado became the first state to regulate the cultivation, manufacture and sale of marijuana for adults 21 and over. Beginning of July has marked six months since the passage of Amendment 64 allowed first retail cannabis stores to open. Naturally, everyone wonders if this historical event has affected crime rates in any way – or marijuana arrests, traffic safety and the economy. Even though the country’s first-ever law allowing personal and recreational use of marijuana went into effect in November 2012, it wasn’t fully implemented until January 1st of 2014. Opening its door in Colorado, the cannabis industry thus kicked off the experiment that was watched closely around the world and one that marijuana reform advocates hoped would prove that legalization is a better and lucrative alternative than the expensive drug war.
Crime down, tax revenue up
According to a report by the Drug Policy Alliance, the state of Colorado is nearly $11 million richer in retail sales taxes. The state also has another $1.9 million in excise taxes that will go to improve Colorado’s schools. The Drug Policy Alliance also reports a 5.2% decrease in violent crime since last year at this time in Denver. And, according to the Colorado Center on Law and Policy, the state could save anywhere from $12 to $40 million in one year for not having to enforce old marijuana possession laws. The report also cites that 10,000 people are employed directly by the legal cannabis industry. Most interesting is the quote coming from Governor John Hickenlooper, who opposed marijuana legalization and the passage of Amendment 64: “While the rest of the country’s economy is slowly picking back up, we’re thriving here in Colorado.”
Reports on the downside
On another note, a month ago, which was five months after Colorado became the first state to allow recreational marijuana sales, the New York times reported of a series of problems. They wrote about incidents such as the Denver man who, „hours after buying a package of marijuana-infused Karma Kandy from one of Colorado’s new recreational marijuana shops, began raving about the end of the world and then pulled a handgun from the family safe and killed his wife“. Then there are stories from some hospital officials claiming they are treating growing numbers of children and adults who got sick after taking “potent doses of edible marijuana”. Finally, there are reports coming from sheriffs of neighbouring states who complain about stoned drivers coming from Colorado and driving through their towns. “I think, by any measure, the experience of Colorado has not been a good one unless you’re in the marijuana business,” saiqd Kevin A. Sabet, executive director of Smart Approaches to Marijuana, which opposes legalization.
More focus on Research
After six months, the majority of the state remains in favour on legalization. The important thing to do is to put more focus on research, and that is why Governor Hickenlooper signed a bill into law that will provide $10 million for research into the medical efficacy of marijuana.