What can we learn from Colorado legalizing marijuana?

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton has come out with guns blazing in favor of Colorado’s legalization of marijuana. The presidential hopeful spoke candidly in an interview with KUSA-TV where she is quoted as having said:


“I really believe it’s important that states like Colorado lead the way so we can learn what works and what doesn’t work. I would certainly not want the federal government to interfere with the legal decision made by the people of Colorado. I want to give you the space to experiment with the marijuana policy and I want other states to learn from you.”


So what can other states learn from Colorado’s marijuana experience?


Fewer criminals


As governments stop persecuting people for marijuana related offenses, so too will there be a drop in arrests and prosecutions.


In 2012, Colorado saw 12 894 marijuana related arrests. By 2014, only 7 004 marijuana related arrests were executed. This represents a 46% drop in the first year of marijuana being legalized. Charges which were filed in court fell from 10 340 to just 1 954 in the same time period. This equates to an 81% reduction in criminal charges being filed.


These sweeping changes freed up law enforcement personnel and resources. Now time and money is better spent on activities which yield greater benefits in terms of public safety.


Marijuana legalization does not increase crime levels


One argument often put forth is that legalizing marijuana will encourage a criminal element. Studies show the exact opposite to be true. Colorado saw petty crime drop by as much as 5% since weed was legalized in 2012. Since the introduction of medical marijuana to the state in 2009, violent crime has fallen by six per cent.


Medical science to benefit


Marijuana has been used to treat a number of ailments for thousands of years. Unfortunately the medicinal properties to be found in marijuana did not receive much attention due to prohibition. As society’s attitude towards the drug changes, more people are becoming accepting of marijuana as a medicine.


Today scientific studies are showing that certain compounds found in marijuana are showing extremely positive results in the treatment of several diseases, including cancer and epilepsy. $8 million dollars’ worth of revenue collected from the sale of marijuana in Colorado was pumped back into medical research.


Increased admissions to emergency rooms

On the down side, studies have shown that adults still need to be more cautious when it comes to leaving marijuana lying around. This proved particularly true when it came to marijuana infused cookies.


Children did not seem to appreciate that the effects of a single cookie may take up to an hour to manifest. Several cases show children were consuming one cookie after another in the hopes of speeding the process up. By the time they had digested their vast intake, these children were so high they could hardly speak.


Money money money!


In 2015 the state of Colorado raised over $70 million in taxes from the sale of cannabis and marijuana related items. This is almost double the $42 million which was raised from the sale of liquor over the same period.


This type of revenue would not have been available had the state continued with prohibition laws. Additional funds are now available to be allocated towards needy services which include health, education and community upliftment projects.