By Staff Attorney
The Gasper Law Group, PLLC
On November 6, 2012, Colorado passed Amendment 64, which radically changed the state’s legal stance towards marijuana, reforming Colorado’s laws to allow for recreational use of the drug. At the time, critics warned of potential negative consequences of the legislation. On January 1, 2014, establishments throughout the state began to sell marijuana to the general public. Twenty-eight months into this new paradigm, let’s assess the impact the legalization has had on various aspects of public life. Were the critics right or not?
- Revenue increase
The marijuana industry certainly boosted the state economy in Colorado, ushering in thousands of new jobs and adding $135 million to state coffers in 2015 alone, easily surpassing revenue from alcohol taxes. In 2014, nearly $700 million worth of medical and recreational marijuana was sold in Colorado.
- Declining possession charges
In 2010, when marijuana was still illegal in the state, Colorado prosecutors filed more than 11,000 charges alleging violations of marijuana laws. By 2014, that number shrank to a remarkable 3,500. In 2015, the number dwindled further: as of October 2015, only 2,100 charges had been filed.
- Increase in serious crime
Records show than serious crime is on the rise in Denver. Some members of the local police force argue that this uptick could be related to the marijuana industry. However, reported burglaries at marijuana businesses in 2015 made up only 2.5 percent of the total number of burglaries in the city.
- Increase in public school funding
Recent reports indicate that that Colorado schools took in $13.6 million in the first five months of 2015 alone – a significant increase over the $13.3 million schools received over the entire 2014 year. A Colorado school superintendent commented that $40 million in revenue would fund the construction of “two well-equipped elementary schools, or one well-equipped middle school with an athletic field.”
For years to come, scholars will undoubtedly study and debate the diverse implications of Colorado’s bold decision to legalize marijuana. However, if you or someone you love stands accused of a drug charge or other serious criminal count, you are likely less concerned with theoretical implications and much more worried about your freedom and your future. Fortunately, the experienced Colorado drug crime defense attorneys at the Gasper Law Group can help. Call us today at 719.227.7779 for a confidential, free case evaluation.