The first states to pass legislation to legalize marijuana were Colorado and Washington in 2012 (full legalization came in 2014). Since then, Colorado has seen some unexpected hiccups as a result of legalization. Although the city hasn’t suffered the way some opponents of legalization thought it would, it has seen its share of consequences since it started marketing the drug to the general public. Here’s the good and the bad of what’s been going on in the state ever since marijuana hit the market.
1. Adolescent ER visits quadrupled from 2005 to 2014
A study done on Colorado’s children’s hospitals revealed that the number of teen’s admitted to Colorado emergency rooms for marijuana use increased dramatically after the 2014 legalization. In 2005, only 146 adolescents were hospitalized for marijuana-related issues. In 2014, it was 639 adolescents. A large portion of marijuana-related visits were for mental health reasons. More than half of the adolescents admitted to the ER also had other drugs, such as amphetamines and opiates, in their systems.
Next: Deaths related to this have increased.
2. Edible-related deaths are becoming more common
Edibles, the term for foods laced with marijuana, have made the news for tragedy in recent years — especially in Colorado. After less than a year and a half of legalization, there were three reported edible-related deaths in Colorado. Edible-related deaths are brand new to the state and have started happening since the legalization. A 44-year-old woman and a 19-year-old college student both died separately as a result of edibles. In 2017, an 11-month-old boy allegedly consumed marijuana and later died.
Next: Edibles are getting into the wrong hands.
3. Children are accidentally consuming edibles
The recent news story about the 11-month-old is only one scenario of children accidentally consuming marijuana. Weed can be laced into almost any food product. This includes products that look appealing to children. In October 2017, Colorado passed a state law that banned the sale of edibles shaped like animals, people, and fruit. The law made an effort to stop young children from thinking the snacks were nothing more than tasty treats.
Next: Believe it or not, these have become a big problem for the state.
4. Home explosions are becoming more common
Yes, you read that right. Colorado residents have been making hash oil inside their homes. Hash oil is a concentrated form of THC (the ingredient in marijuana that gives you the high). It’s made with liquid butane, but can be very dangerous if you don’t know exactly how to make it. With amateurs trying to manufacture their own oil, home explosions have become common throughout the state (the resultant butane gas is extremely flammable). In 2014, there were 32 hash-oil-related explosions — the same year marijuana was legalized. Five people were hospitalized, and 17 were treated for burns.
Next: These offenses have seen a major spike.
5. ‘Driving under the influence’ offenses have increased
Fatal car crashes resulting in marijuana use have risen immensely every year since 2013, according to an analysis of coroner reports done by the Denver Post. In 2016, nearly a dozen drivers had weed amounts that were at least five times the legal amount. Although the correlation between legalization and increased DUIs can’t go unnoticed, public safety officials also can’t definitely say that it is a result of legalization. However, the police feel that the numbers have risen too quickly for it to be related to any other cause.
Next: Officials are still looking for a way to fix this serious problem.
6. Officials haven’t found a way to kill the black market
Colorado’s marijuana comes with a hefty tax. On top of the state’s regular 2.9% sales tax comes an additional 10% sales tax on weed. And on top of that comes a staggering 15% excise tax. As a result, people pay far more for legal marijuana than for illegal marijuana. This means there will probably always be a black market. Many proponents of legalization believed that marketing the drug would rid the black market, but Colorado has proved that this wasn’t the case.
Next: Despite all of the downsides, this is one huge upside to legalization.
7. The state has seen a lower violent crime rate since legalization
One crucial upside to weed legalization has been the decline in Colorado’s violent crime rate. Slate reported that Denver’s violent crime rate fell 5.6% within the first four months after weed hit the market. The Colorado state police reported that major property crimes were down more than 10% in Denver during that time. The 2014 average crime rate in Denver ended up dropping 2.2%, with property crimes down 8.9% for the year.
Next: This has increased greatly, proving to be another upside to legalization.
8. Increased revenue has given Colorado’s economy a boost
Colorado has definitely made more money since legalizing weed. In just the first three months of legalization, Colorado saw $50 million in revenue from marijuana sales. This resulted in $7.3 million for the state. When medical marijuana and licensing fees were also factored in, the state’s weed-related income jumped to $12.6 million from January 2014 to March 2014. The state had $1.3 billion in marijuana revenue in 2016, resulting in $200 million in the state’s pocket.
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