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2018 Marijuana in Colorado Volume 5 Colorado, Black Market, social costs, Fatalities

Executive Summary

RMHIDTA has published annual reports every year since 2013 tracking the impact of
legalizing recreational marijuana in Colorado. The purpose is to provide data and
information so that policy makers and citizens can make informed decisions on the
issue of marijuana legalization. This year (2018) RMHIDTA elected to provide an
update to the 2017 Volume 5 report rather than another detailed report.
 
Section I: Traffic Fatalities & Impaired Driving
x Since recreational marijuana was legalized, marijuana related traffic deaths
increased 151 percent while all Colorado traffic deaths increased 35 percent
x Since recreational marijuana was legalized, traffic deaths involving drivers who
tested positive for marijuana more than doubled from 55 in 2013 to 138 people
killed in 2017.
o This equates to one person killed every 2 1⁄2 days compared to one person
killed every 6 1⁄2 days.
x The percentage of all Colorado traffic deaths that were marijuana related
increased from 11.43 percent in 2013 to 21.3 percent in 2017.
 
Section II: Marijuana Use
x Colorado past month marijuana use shows a 45 percent increase in comparing
the three-year average prior to recreational marijuana being legalized to the three
years after legalization.
x Colorado past month marijuana use for ages 12 and older is ranked 3rd in the
nation and is 85 percent higher than the national average.
 
Section III: Public Health
x The yearly rate of emergency department visits related to marijuana increased 52
percent after the legalization of recreational marijuana. (2012 compared to 2016)
x The yearly rate of marijuana-related hospitalizations increased 148 percent after
the legalization of recreational marijuana. (2012 compared to 2016)
x Marijuana only exposures more than tripled in the five-year average (2013-2017)
since Colorado legalized recreational marijuana compared to the five-year
average (2008-2012) prior to legalization.
 
Section IV: Black Market
x RMHIDTA Colorado Task Forces (10) conducted 144 investigations of black
market marijuana in Colorado resulting in:
o 239 felony arrests
o 7.3 tons of marijuana seized
o 43,949 marijuana plants seized
o 24 different states the marijuana was destined
x The number of highway seizures of Colorado marijuana increased 39 percent
from an average of 242 seizures (2009-2012) to an average of 336 seizures (2013-
2017) during the time recreational marijuana has been legal.
x Seizures of Colorado marijuana in the U.S. mail system has increased 1,042
percent from an average of 52 parcels (2009-2012) to an average of 594 parcels
(2013-2017) during the time recreational marijuana has been legal.
 
Section V: Societal Impact
x Marijuana tax revenue represent approximately nine tenths of one percent of
Colorado’s FY 2017 budget.
x Violent crime increased 18.6 percent and property crime increased 8.3 percent in
Colorado since 2013.
x 65 percent of local jurisdictions in Colorado have banned medical and
recreational marijuana businesses.
 
Section IV: Marijuana Industry
x According to the Marijuana Policy Group, Market Size and Demand for
Marijuana in Colorado 2017 Market Update:
o “From 2014 through 2017, average annual adult use flower prices fell 62.0
percent, from $14.05 to $5.34 per gram weighted average.”
o “Adult use concentrate prices fell 47.9 percent, from $41.43 to $21.57 per
gram.”
o “The average THC content of all tested flower in 2017 was 19.6 percent
statewide compared to 17.4 percent in 2016, 16.6 percent in 2015 and 16.4
percent in 2014.”
o “The average potency of concentrated extract products increased steadily
from 56.6 percent THC content by weight in 2014 to 68.6 percent at the
end of 2017.”
 
x As of June 2017, there were 491 retail marijuana stores in the state of Colorado
compared to 392 Starbucks and 208 McDonald’s.
Legalization of Marijuana- Impact Report Colorado, Potency, youth usage, vehicle, social costs, Business

See report for details, graphs, data.

THC extracts concentrate problems Colorado, edibles, social costs, green crack

Peer-reviewed journal Clinical Pediatrics, found that between 2006 and 2013, the marijuana exposure rate rose 147.5 percent among children age 5 and under. In that same period, the rate rose nearly 610 percent in states that sanctioned medical marijuana before 2000, the year Colorado followed suit.

Employers, law enforcement officials, educators and addiction treatment providers say Colorado has cooked up a poorly regulated THC-food fiasco that crisscrosses the country with the ease of exporting gummy bears in glove compartments, pockets and handbags. For taxpayers, the growing edibles market means an array of social costs — including hospitalizations, traffic accidents, school dropouts and lost work productivity — that state and federal officials haven’t fully investigated, estimated and made public.

 

Rocky Mountain High Producing Some Undesirable Side Effects Colorado, pesticide, cost, social costs

In March of this year plants at several growing facilities in the Denver area had to be quarantined because of the misuse of “pesticides.” The pesticides, it turns out, were improvised concoctions of chemicals, including some unidentifiable mixtures. Cannabis growers have been left to improvise since no commercial pesticides are labeled for legal use on cannabis plants.
In 2014 and 2015, nearly $6 million in pot revenues have been distributed to local governments. But the cost of increased law enforcement, drugged driving incidents, fatal crashes, loss of productivity and a huge spike in gang-related crime bring into question the cost-benefit of those dollars. Teen drug-relatedschool expulsions are also on the rise. And the notion that prisons filled with minor drug offenders would be relieved of overcrowding—a selling point of legalizing marijuana—has been blown to smithereens. Denver’s homeless population has exploded since Amendment 64 went into effect. And there are indications that finite tourist dollars are going more to pot and less to Colorado’s iconic natural wonders.

What is the Social Impact of Legalizing Marijuana? impact, social costs, Colorado

Alcohol is legal and regulated. Its use is our nation’s No. 3 cause of preventable death, behind diet related illness. Alcohol use costs our country at least $185 billion annually — which is also roughly 10 times the amount of money our state and federal governments collect from today’s taxes on the substance (HHS)
Marijuana: According to the 2010 National Study on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) • Marijuana accounted for 4.5 million of the estimated 7.1 million Americans dependent on or abusing illicit drugs • In 2009, approximately 18 percent of people aged 12 and older entering drug abuse treatment programs reported marijuana as their primary drug of abuse • 61 percent of persons under 15 reported marijuana as their primary drug of abuse

If You Thought Marijuana was Harmless, Medical Researchers Have News for You health, addiction, pills, youth, Research, social costs

As expected, prescription cannabinoids are effective antiemetics and appetite stimulants, and some studies report their effectiveness as adjunct therapy in chronic pain syndromes, spasticity, and glaucoma. Similar results are reported by the few studies of smoked cannabis plant for these same indications. As noted earlier, safe and effective alternative treatments for all these syndromes are available.  Studies assessing psychological aspects of smoked cannabis and prescription cannabinoids uniformly report undesired effects: acute psychosis, poorer prognosis of chronic psychosis, or cognitive dulling in medical patients. 

Decriminalization would increase the use and the economic and social costs of drugs. legalization, usage, social costs, alcohol

In fact, the benefits of keeping marijuana and other illicit drugs illegal clearly outweigh the negative and predictable consequences of legitimizing these substances.
Our position is simple and evidence-based: both decriminalization and legalization of illicit drugs would increase their use, along with their associated health and social costs. Unless advocates of decriminalization or of outright legalization can establish that more drug use is a net good for society, both arguments are self-refuting.
Higher prices help hold down rates of usage.

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