(Volume 8 September 2021)
The Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (RMHIDTA) program has published annual reports every year since 2013 tracking the impact of legalizing recreational marijuana in Colorado. The purpose is to provide data and information so that policy makers and citizens can make informed decisions on the issue of marijuana legalization.
Section I: Traffic Fatalities & Impaired Driving
- Since recreational marijuana was legalized in 2013, traffic deaths where drivers tested positive for marijuana increased 138% while all Colorado traffic deaths increased 29%.
- Since recreational marijuana was legalized, traffic deaths involving drivers who tested positive for marijuana more than doubled from 55 in 2013 to 131 people killed in 2020.
- Since recreational marijuana was legalized, the percentage of all Colorado traffic deaths involving drivers who tested positive for marijuana increased from 11% in 2013 to 20% in 2020.
Section II: Marijuana Use
Since recreational marijuana was legalized in 2013:
- Past month marijuana use for ages 12 and older increased 26% and is 61% higher than the national average, currently ranked 3rd in the nation.
- Past month adult marijuana use (ages 18 and older) increased 20% and is 62% higher than the national average, currently ranked 3rd in the nation.
- Past month college age marijuana (ages 18-25) use increased 10% and is 53% higher than the national average, currently ranked 3rd in the nation.
- Past month youth marijuana (ages 12-17) use decreased 22% and is 39% higher than the national average, currently ranked 7th in the nation.
Section III: Public Health
- Marijuana only exposures increased 185% from 2013 when recreational marijuana was legalized compared to 2020.
- Treatment for marijuana use for all ages decreased 34% from 2013 to 2020.
- The percent of suicide incidents in which toxicology results were positive for marijuana has increased from 14% in 2013 to 29% in 2020.
Section IV: Black Market
- RMHIDTA Colorado Drug Task Forces (10) conducted 294 investigations of black-market marijuana in Colorado resulting in:
- 168 felony arrests
- 5.54 tons of marijuana seized
- 86,502 marijuana plants seized
- 21 different states the marijuana was destined
- Seizures of marijuana reported to the El Paso Intelligence Center (EPIC) in Colorado increased 48% from an average of 174 parcels (2009-2012) when marijuana was commercialized to an average of 257 parcels (2013-2020) during the time recreational marijuana become legalized.
Section V: Societal Impact
- Marijuana tax revenue represent approximately 0.98% of Colorado’s FY 2020 budget.
- 66% of local jurisdictions in Colorado have banned medical and recreational marijuana businesses.