The Colorado Department of Public Safety has issued its first-ever baseline report assessing the impact of adult use marijuana regulations in Colorado. Lawmakers in 2013 passed legislation authorizing regulators to conduct the five-year review, which seeks to better identify ways in which legalization has impacted public health and safety.
Authors reported that the total number of marijuana arrests fell 52 percent between the years 2012 and 2017. In Denver, marijuana arrests fell 81 percent over this same period of time.
Authors also reported that youth marijuana use has remained largely unchanged since legalization. The report acknowledged “no significant change in past 30-day use of marijuana between 2013 and 2017.” Authors further reported that marijuana use by Colorado teens in 2017 was virtually no different than the national average. By contrast, the percentage of Colorado adults reporting marijuana use increased from 13.6 percent in 2014 to 15.5 percent in 2017.
Authors acknowledged that police are now more likely to make DUI arrests for drivers suspected of being under the influence of cannabis. Specifically, 15 percent of DUI arrests in 2017 involved cannabis versus 12 percent in 2014. However, authors cautioned that this uptick is may be partially due to “an increase in the number of law enforcement officers who are trained in recognizing drug use,” rather than as a result of any changes in driving behavior. Authors further reported that the total number of drivers involved in fatal accidents with elevated THC blood levels over 5ng.ml fell between 2016 and 2017.