Saddleback College Legalizing Marijuana Discussion
Legalizing Marijuana Discussion
The jabs across the fence by those that want marijuana legalized are quickly countered by those that want to keep marijuana classified as a Schedule I drug. To date 21 states have laws in place that legalize the use of marijuana for medical reasons. Currently, since the recent elections, 10 states and the District of Columbia have passed measures that have legalized marijuana for recreational use. Proponents say that there have been no documented deaths as a direct result of marijuana use, whereas the annual number of deaths from tobacco smoke and alcohol are numbing. Proponents state that the legalization of marijuana will result in jobs, increased revenue for states, decreased crime, and the sale of the drug can be regulated. Opponents argue that increased availability of the dr ug and its byproducts will only resort in higher usage among teens, increased costs for treatment programs, increased availability to minors, higher addiction rates, and increased health-related issues further burdening the health care systema. There is also the argument of increased involvement of foreign crime organizations.. After being the first to legalize recreational use, Colorado has been the experiment that other states continue to look to. In Colorado’s 2019 annual report referred to as the Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) impact Report , which is used to monitor data regarding the impact of legalizing marijuana has highlighted some interesting issues.
The report is divided into multiple sections, each providing information on the impact of marijuana legalization. The sections are as follows:
Section 1 – Impaired Driving and Fatalities:
Since recreational marijuana was legalized, traffic deaths in which drivers tested positive
for marijuana increased 109 percent while all Colorado traffic deaths increased 31
• Since recreational marijuana was legalized, traffic deaths involving drivers who tested
positive for marijuana more than doubled from 55 in 2013 to 115 people killed in 2018.
o This equates to one person killed every 3 days in 2018 compared to one person
killed every 6 ½ days in 2013.
• Since recreational marijuana was legalized, the percentage of all Colorado traffic deaths
that were marijuana related increased from 15 percent in 2013 to 23 percent in 2018.
Section 2 – Youth Marijuana Use:
Since recreational marijuana was legalized:
Past month marijuana use for ages 12 and older increased 58 percent and is 78 percent
higher than the national average, currently ranked 4th in the nation.
Youth marijuana use decreased 14 percent and is 40 percent higher than the national
average, currently ranked 6th in the nation. In 2017,
The number of students that usually consumed marijuana as edibles was 10% which was up from 2% in 2015.
Further, the students that reported dabbing marijuana increased from 4% in 2015 to 7.5% in
Colorado first time use ranks first in the nation for all age groups except for 26
and older in which it ranks second.
Section 3 – Adult Marijuana Use:
Adult marijuana use increased 94 percent and is 96 percent higher than the national
average, currently ranked 4th in the nation.
College age marijuana use increased 18 percent and is 48 percent higher than the
national average, currently ranked 6th in the nation.
Past Month Marijuana Use Ages 26 and Older Colorado was 96% higher than the National average in 2016/2017
Between 2002 and 2016 the amount of pregnant women using marijuana increased from 3% to5%. By comparison both alcohol and cigarette use by pregnant women fell during the same time period by 2% and 7.5% respectively
Section 4 – Emergency Department and Hospital Marijuana-Related Admissions
The yearly number of emergency department visits related to marijuana increased 54
percent after the legalization of recreational marijuana (2013 compared to 2017).
• The yearly number of marijuana-related hospitalizations increased 101 percent after the
legalization of recreational marijuana (2013 compared to 2017).
• Marijuana only exposures more than quadrupled in the six-year average (2013-2018)
since recreational marijuana was legalized compared to the six-year average (2007-2012)
prior to legalization.
• The percent of suicide incidents in which toxicology results were positive for marijuana
has increased from 14 percent in 2013 to 23 percent in 2017.
Section 5 – Black Market
RMHIDTA Colorado Drug Task Forces (10) conducted 257 investigations of black
market marijuana in Colorado resulting in:
o 192 felony arrests
o 6.08 tons of marijuana seized
o 60,091 marijuana plants seized
o 25 different states the marijuana was destined
Seizures of Colorado marijuana in the U.S. mail system has increased 1,042 percent from
an average of 52 parcels (2009-2012) to an average of 594 parcels (2013-2017) during the
time recreational marijuana has been legal.
Number of Marijuana Case Filings Associated with Colorado Organized Crime Control Act increased from 1 in 2014 to 119 in 2017. Colorado Organized Crime Control Act (COCCA) filings are conspiracy cases in
which there is potential for a larger sentence than other types of drug filings.
Section 6 – Societal Impact
Marijuana tax revenue represent approximately nine tenths of one percent of
Colorado’s FY 2018 budget.
Total revenue from Marijuana taxes totaled $253,284,946
64 percent of local jurisdictions in Colorado have banned medical and recreational
In 2018, violent crime in Colorado rose by 7.95% compared with 2017. Over half of the violent
crime reported in 2018 was categorized as aggravated assault. In total, there were 211 murders
(218 in 2017), 14,403 aggravated assaults (up 12.66% from 2017), and 6,834 sexual offenses (up
5.01% from 2017).
The per-capita violent crime rate in Denver grew 9 percent between 2017 and 2018, while the
bulk of large cities in the U.S. saw a decline… On average, violent crime rates in 25 of the
nation’s most populous cities dropped 4 percent in that time period.
Average Pounds of Marijuana from Colorado, mailed to another state increased 1,124% !
Section 7– Related Data:
Economic and Social Costs of Legalized Marijuana
• “For every dollar gained in tax revenue, Coloradans spent approximately $4.50 to
mitigate the effects of legalization.”
• “Costs related to the healthcare system and from high school drop-outs are the largest
• “Yearly cost-estimates for marijuana users: $2,200 for heavy users, $1,250 for moderate
users, $650 for light users.”
• “The estimated costs of DUIs for people who tested positive for marijuana only in 2016
approaches $25 million.”
• “In 2016, the marijuana industry was responsible for approximately 393,053 pounds of
To read the complete report click the following link RMHIDTA (Links to an external site.)
- In a recent article from CNN Business (11/26/19), it was reported that total estimated sales form recreational cannabis totaled over $12 billion, but black market sales accounted for the largest share totaling $8.7 billion in illicit sales. The expected job growth has turned into an epidemic of layoffs.
Seeing this data, both the good and the bad, how does the state of California, which has a very hard time trying to find it’s own identity, use Colorado as a model and reduce the trends that are being experienced there. Please do not tell me about the importance of pot for medicine, or about less people in jail, or that no one has ever died from overdosing on pot. That is not what I am looking for here. Look at the facts people. Get into this, because your generation will live with the after affects good or bad from these issues. At the end of the day, is this just about money? I expect some real hard line data in your replies, not the latest blog from the Huffington Post or Weed Magazine.
The article listed above presents a tremendous case against marijuana. As shown in the graphs hospitalizations due to marijuana use or exposure has been consistently increasing since commercialization and have drastically increased since legalization. California needs to see the facts and the numbers listed in the article showing the numbers of drivers testing positive for the use of the drug as well as the number of deaths in motor vehicle accidents and use it as a motive to oppose the trend Colorado has been on. I do feel living in America, that seeing these numbers in the money really helps distract the real problem and it makes the legalization of marijuana so much better than it is. The article says it for itself, more people are dying and more people are visiting the hospital.
I have friends who are cancer survivors that have personally told me the use of medical marijuana along their journey did indeed help and make a difference in their feeling of pain. So yes, marijuana does have its medicinal benefits but people who aren’t in need of it medically use that as a defense in regards to how it isn’t harmful. People are blinded by the risk of what marijuana may actually cause because they have found something that is on the fence of legalization that benefits them personally. Marijuana is indeed a gateway drug and just like the professor said in the directions of the post, our generation is going to deal with the consequences or benefits of legalization, and I personally think there’s going to be more harm than help done. I know marijuana hasn’t harmed every single user, hasn’t led to an unfortunate circumstance in every case, but clearly there’s a correlation in societal and environmental consequence. Getting a law reversed after it’s been legalized is incredibly difficult and although I don’t see it happening anytime soon or even at all, I think California needs to see the facts and correlation and make a change for the future.
As California searches for its own identity after the legalization of recreational marijuana, they are viewing Colorado as the guinea pig state. The state of California looks to Colorado as a model ever since Colorado was the first state to legalize recreational marijuana use. The article mentioned above, RMHIDTA, states that Colorado’s yearly number of marijuana-related hospitalizations increased 101% after the legalization of recreational marijuana. The article also states that in 2016, the marijuana industry was responsible for approximately 393,053 pounds of CO2 emissions. Both of this evidence suggests that since the legalization of recreational marijuana, there have been a greater increase in health hazards. I think that when California looks to Colorado’s experimentation and trends with marijuana use, they should focus on ways to control and decrease the number of health-related issues. Some ways California can reduce the trend of marijuana related health issues is to reduce the carbon footprint from marijuana growth. To reduce the carbon footprint, California should use energy sources such as solar or wind, because this produced zero carbon emissions. Another renewable energy source that can be used is LED lighting, which reduced the need for excess ventilation. This way, less carbon dioxide is produced and there is a lower cost of production. Another negative trend that Colorado is experiencing is the number of impaired driving and fatalities. According to the article mentioned above, the percentage of all Colorado traffic deaths that were marijuana related increased from 15% to 23% in 2018. I think California needs to recognize these statistics and understand that with the legalization of recreational marijuana use, it is certain that were will be more people who are driving high. To decrease this trend, California should have more DUI checkpoints and they should encourage people to consume marijuana in the safety of their homes. Although it is unrealistic to expect people to stay at home to use marijuana, there are not many alternatives to going places when you are high. There are many pros and cons to the legalization of recreational marijuana, and since California voted yes on the law, we the people must conform to this new law and recognize the dangers of being high while driving and the other increased health risks. Although I did not talk much about the economy’s viewpoint on the legalization of marijuana, I can tell you that it is all about the money. If it was not, then marijuana would not be legal