Report: Marijuana’s impact on Colorado

The Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area has been dedicated to tracking the impact of marijuana legalization in Colorado — and the findings aren’t pretty.

Since the commercialization of medical marijuana in 2009, use levels have risen, as have other problems. Legalization only has compounded the issues.

We invite you to review the full report, which is divided into 10 sections. Among its findings:

Section 1 – Impaired Driving:
• Traffic fatalities involving operators testing positive for marijuana have increased 100 percent from 2007 to 2012.
• The majority of driving-under-the-influence-of-drugs arrests involve marijuana and 25 to 40 percent were marijuana alone.
• Toxicology reports with positive marijuana results for driving under the influence have increased 16 percent from 2011 to 2013.

Section 2 – Youth Marijuana Use:
• In 2012, 10.47 percent of youth ages 12 to 17 were considered current marijuana users compared to 7.55 percent nationally. Colorado, ranked 4th in the nation, was 39 percent higher than the national average.
• Drug-related suspensions/expulsions increased 32 percent from school years 2008/2009 through 2012/2013. The vast majority were for marijuana violations.

Section 3 – Adult Marijuana Use:
• In 2012, 26.81 percent of college age students (ages 18 – 25 years) were considered current marijuana users compared to 18.89 percent nationally. Colorado, ranked 3rd in the nation, was 42 percent higher than the national average.
• In 2012, 7.63 percent of adults ages 26 and over were considered current marijuana users compared to 5.05 percent nationally. Colorado, ranked 7th in the nation, was 51 percent higher than the national average.
• In 2013, 48.4 percent of Denver adult arrestees tested positive for marijuana which is a 16 percent increase from 2008.

Section 4 – Emergency Room Marijuana Admissions:
• From 2011 through 2013, there was a 57 percent increase in marijuana-related emergency room visits.
• Hospitalizations related to marijuana have increased 82 percent from 2008 to 2013.
• In 2012, the City of Denver rate for marijuana-related emergency visits was 45 percent higher than the rate in Colorado.