Back in 2012, critics claimed the world would come to an end if marijuana was legalized for recreational use in Colorado.
Douglas County Sheriff David Weaver said crime would be up and more kids would be lighting up,
“Expect more crime, more kids using marijuana and pot for sale everywhere.”
Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper was worried for the kids and also concerned about the stigma free use of pot would have on the state. I suspect the governor watched Reefer Madness one too many times.
“Colorado is known for many great things –- marijuana should not be one of them.” Gov. Hickenlooper added, “Amendment 64 has the potential to increase the number of children using drugs and would detract from efforts to make Colorado the healthiest state in the nation. It sends the wrong message to kids that drugs are OK.”
Amie Baca-Oehlert, vice president of the Colorado Education Association was also concerned… for the children,
“Drugs and kids don’t mix. As an educator and as a parent, I am not comfortable supporting something that I know is harmful to children,” Baca-Oehlert said. “Marijuana has impacts, negative impacts, on attention span, brain development, all of these things that impact learning.”
Well, good news, folks. The kids are fine and the legalization of pot in Colorado has brought quite a few benefits along with it.
Let’s address the naysayers primary concern first. The kids! According to US News & World Report, marijuana use among teens in Colorado has actually declined. That’s right. Fewer kids are smoking weed since legalization. Marijuana Policy Project Communication Director Mason Tvert explains the reduction in teen use,
“The drop in teen use reflects the fact that state and local authorities have far more control over marijuana than ever before.” Tvert argues “our goal should not be increasing teens’ perception of risk surrounding marijuana. It should be increasing teens’ knowledge of the actual relative harms of marijuana, alcohol, and other substances so that they can make smart decisions.”
Crime has dropped as well. According to USA News, marijuana related arrests account for 50% of all drug related crime. These arrests have predictably plummeted in Colorado. HuffPo reports that the reduction in crime has saved the state between $12 million and $40 million in law enforcement costs. Another added benefit is that police are now free to focus on real criminal activity instead of chasing down recreational pot users.
As if that’s not enough good news, Colorado’s economy is booming. They added $40+ million in tax revenue from the sale of marijuana in the first ten months of 2014. The state of Colorado and the city of Denver have both been ranked in the top ten for job growth as well.
Other opponents of legalization claimed the roads would be filled with ‘drugged drivers’ turning Colorado highways into rivers of blood. Ok, perhaps that’s an exaggeration, but nonetheless, the critics were wrong. The Washington Post reports that Colorado highway deaths have dropped to near historic lows since marijuana was legalized for recreational use.
Vice News reports yet another positive outcome. Marijuana legalization in the United States is starting to cripple Mexican drug cartels.
Good old Gov. Hickenlooper, once a critic, has finally seen the light. As reported by BuzzFeed, Hickenlooper is now celebrating Colorado’s booming economy, which has improved, in part, due to the legalization of marijuana,
“While the rest of the country’s economy is slowly picking back up, we’re thriving here in Colorado,” said Hickenlooper.
The Colorado experiment is going very well and we can expect other states to follow suit. Perhaps one day soon, all Americans will be able to “light ‘em if they’ve got ‘em” free and clear of criminal wrong-doing.