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Colorado and Washington legalized marijuana in 2012, followed by Alaska and Oregon in 2014. The District of Columbia legalized cultivation and possession in 2014.
Today’s highly potent marijuana represents a growing and significant threat to public health and safety, a threat that is amplified by a new marijuana industry intent on profiting from heavy use.
State laws allowing marijuana have, in direct contradiction to federal law, permitted this industry to flourish, influencing both policies and policy makers. While the consequences of these policies will not be known for decades, early indicators are troubling.
This report, reviewed by prominent scientists and researchers, serves as an evidence-based guide to what we currently observe in various states.
According to data from the NSDUH, the average rate of regular teen marijuana use
in the legalized states of Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, and Washington is 30% higher than the U.S. rate as a whole. Almost a third of all 18–25 year olds in legal states used marijuana in the past month, up from around one-fifth 10 years ago.

Colorado currently holds the top ranking for first-time marijuana use among youth, representing a 65% increase in the years since legalization (NSDUH, 2006-2017).

Colorado toxicology reports show the percentage of adolescent suicide victims testing positive for marijuana has increased (Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment [CDPHE], 2017).

Colorado marijuana arrests for young African-American and Hispanic youth have increased since legalization (Colorado Department of Public Safety [CDPS], 2016).

Colorado schools that had 25% or fewer youth of color had 313 marijuana-related suspensions compared to 658 marijuana-related suspensions for schools comprised of populations with 76% or more youth of color (CDPS, 2016).

The gallons of alcohol consumed in Colorado since marijuana legalization has increased by 8% (Colorado Department of Revenue [CDR], Colorado Liquor Excise Tax, 2017).

In Colorado, calls to poison control centers have risen 210% between the four-year averages before and after recreational legalization (Rocky Mountain Poison and Drug Center [RMPCD], 2017 and Wang et al.

Narcotics officers in Colorado have been busy responding to the 50% increase in illegal grow operations across rural areas in the state (Stewart, 2017).

In 2016 alone, Colorado law enforcement confiscated 7,116 pounds of marijuana, carried out 252 felony arrests, and made 346 highway interdictions of marijuana headed to 36 different U.S. states (RMHIDTA, 2017).

The crime rate in Colorado has increased 11 times faster than the rest of the nation since legalization (Mitchell, 2017), with the Colorado Bureau of Investigation reporting an 8.3% increase in property crimes and an 18.6% increase in violent crimes (Colorado Bureau of Investigation [CBI], 2017).

For more information regarding the damaging effects marijuana legalization has had on Colorado, please read our full impact report at the link the below.

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