Colorado Cannabis a Year After Legalization

by, Cheri M. Roberts

It has been nearly a year since Colorado legalized the recreational use of marijuana. No more do you need to get a medical marijuana “red” card to legally acquire up to an ounce of glorious Ganj, and the state is raking in the profits, but what impact has recreational pot use and sales had on the state besides a positive financial impact?

According to information in a new report by the Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (RMHIDTA) the results are a lot more positive than they had expected.

Reefer Madness and Minors, Oh My!

Not!

According to the Center for Disease Control’s (CDC) Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) those who thought marijuana use would increase in Colorado’s teen population, the CDC’s survey proves them wrong. Colorado teens are among those leading the downward trend towards non-use.

youth-risk-behavior-study-colorado-marijuana

IMAGE SOURCE: CDC YRBS

In the graph above it is clear that pot use in the State’s teen population has actually decreased, not increased. In fact, Colorado teens cannabis use falls lower than the National average as shown in the graph below.

Pot-Smoking-by-American-Teenagers

IMAGE SOURCE: CDC YRBS

Driving Under the Influence of Marijuana

Many people had concerns there would be more traffic violations, accidents and deaths due to residents driving while high on weed and ironically the RMHIDTA report contradicts itself on this issue stating both that incidents had increased and significantly decreased. Someone needed an editor before publication of the report and we are left to wonder what the real truth here is.

Here are the opposing statements they put out within the same report…

“…traffic fatalities involving operators testing positive for marijuana have increased 100 percent from 2007 to 2012.”

“…traffic fatalities in Colorado decreased 14.8 percent from 2007 to 2012.”

So, um…which is it?

Your guess is as good as mine however, let’s move on to the other concerns and the studies results, after which we may be more inclined to believe the latter or the two above statements.

Pots Impact on the Medical Community

In the CDC’s YRBS report it is stated that from 2011 to 2013, “there was a 57 percent increase in emergency room visits related to marijuana.””

That sounds pretty bad right?

Well, maybe not, because here’s the deal; cannabis stays in the system for approximately 30+ days. Anyone who partook within the 30-day period and at some point ended up in the ER for medical treatment would test positive for pot even if it had been nearly a month since they had smoked (or eaten) any.

These numbers are improperly presented without appropriate explanation.

“Marijuana related” is a catch-all for any patient if it is found in their blood stream even if they are not under the influence at the time they seek medial care.

Access and Exposure for Small Children

We have heard a lot of debate voicing concerns small children would be more exposed to drugs and have unintended access to them in their homes [we’re talking the little tykes, not the teens we already discussed].

Has there been an increase in incidents?

Yes, but the “268%” figure touted in the report looks a whole lot scarier than it actually is. The reality is the increase amount to approximately 6-8 more children a year that were exposed to the drug or had gotten their hands on it. While no one wants to put children in harm’s way, the CDC’s report presents a much more tragic picture than is what’s the case.

Parents should strive harder to keep things out of children’s reach and we should all be thankful that it was only weed they had gotten a hold of and not their parent’s guns as often happens around the country.

Strung Out on Ganja???

There are tons of studies proving marijuana is not physically addictive however, uneducated opiners feared a deluge of degenerate druggies. They didn’t get it. And, although the CDC’s report says,

Marijuana treatment data from Colorado in years 2005–2013 doesn’t appear to demonstrate a definitive trend.”

I am not sure how they came to that conclusion when the report also clearly shows there has been a 15% decrease in rehabilitative needs.

As with most reports from government entities, we really need to make sure we are giving them a thorough read and nut just a cursory glance looking to confirm a bias, one way or the other. Getting past the written rhetoric and double-talk is imperative.

Halt, You’re Under Arrest

Many across the country wondered — back in January, what would happen to Colorado’s pot prisoners once their crimes were no longer a crime.  After the legislation passed the vote most Colorado counties had stopped ticketing and arresting for pot offenses that would not in essence be offenses once the new laws actually kicked so there were few if any of those types of cases to work out.

The expectation by some was that crime would increase in the State with legal recreational use,  especially violent crime. Well, small non-violent crimes did increase by 6.6%, but remarkably true violent crime has decreased significantly. For instance murder was down by 38%, robbery by 5% and forcible sex offenses were down by 19 percent!

Blunt Talking

There are always going to be naysayers. There are always going to be people who stick their heads in the sand because of the indoctrination that decades of government propaganda has instilled in them. Some, like CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta have done a complete 180 and are now speaking out about government lies regarding the green.

sajay-gupta-marijuana-lies

While Seattle’s recreational marijuana laws have only been in place since this past summer, there is little quantifiable data available at this time to include their statistics. We will have to wait a while before there is anything measurable to study. In the meantime, Colorado’s coffers are flourishing and there is much speculation as to which State will be next to openly light-up.. This far, all indications show the voters of California and New York are not far from rolling-up a fat one.

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