Monday, July 07, 2014

legalization has reduced colorado to a lawless dystopian hellscape..., NOT!



policymic |  It's now been six months since Colorado enacted its historic marijuana legalization policy, and two big things have already happened: 

1. Colorado's cash crop is turning out to be even more profitable than the state could have hoped. In March alone, taxed and legal recreational marijuana sales generated nearly $19 million, up from $14 million in February. The state has garnered more than $10 million in taxes from retail sales in the first four months — money that will go to public schools and infrastructure, as well as for youth educational campaigns about substance use.

According to his latest budget proposal, Gov. John Hickenlooper expects a healthy $1 billion in marijuana sales over the next fiscal year. That's nearly $134 million in tax revenue. Sales from recreational shops are expected to hit $600 million, which is a more than 50% increase over what was originally expected.

2. Denver crime rates have suddenly fallen. Marijuana-related arrests, which make up 50% of all drug-related crimes, have plummeted in Colorado, freeing up law enforcement to focus on other criminal activity. By removing marijuana penalties, the state is estimated to save somewhere between $12 million and $40 million, according to the Colorado Center on Law and Policy.
 
According to government data, the Denver city- and county-wide murder rate has dropped 42.1% since recreational marijuana use was legalized in January. This is compared to the same period last year, a time frame encompassing Jan. 1 through May 31. Violent crime in general is down almost 2%, and major property crimes are down 11.5% compared to the same period in 2013.

As the Huffington Post notes, this is a far cry from wild-eyed claims by legalization opponents that legal weed was the devil's work and Colorado would see a surge in crime and drug use.
"Expect more crime, more kids using marijuana and pot for sale everywhere," said Douglas County Sheriff David Weaver in 2012. 

"I think our entire state will pay the price." Gov. Hickenlooper at one point said. "Colorado is known for many great things — marijuana should not be one of them" 

With only a quarter of the year's data to work from, it may be too soon to definitively attribute these changes to marijuana legalization, but the possibility of a correlative pattern is certainly worth noting.
We are witnessing the fruits of Colorado's legal weed experiment, and those fruits are juicy indeed.

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