Colorado’s Anniversary

by Alastair Moore


Yesterday, January 5th, the Drug Policy Alliance took a moment to celebrate Colorado’s legalisation on their blog.

Over three years ago the public went to the ballots and made the choice to legalise marijuana and for two years now the citizens have been able to legally purchase marijuana in dispensaries. Art Way walks the reader through some of the most important results of legalisation.

The destruction imagined by opponents of legalization in 2012 never came true and is unlikely to materialize. Public safety benchmarks are under scrutiny in a manner never seen under prohibition and there is no real cause for panic in the foreseeable future. In short, the current state of legalization is more reflective of the world imagined by proponents – legalization works!

He points out that although initial reports and progress are positive, it is not by chance and there is a system in place to advance the policy with as much essential input and guidance as possible.

Of course that doesn’t prevent many from making broad assumptions and speculating about dangers associated with legalization. What’s important for the world to know is the policy is growing under the guidance of a family of state regulators, reform advocates, health practitioners and responsible industry affiliates.

The two biggest things they have seen in Colorado are:

  1. A substantial drop in the number arrests.

marijuana arrests in Colorado have plummeted. We’ve seen possession, cultivation and distribution charges for marijuana cumulatively drop over 80%. Thousands of people in the state are no longer facing the immediate or collateral impact of a marijuana arrest. These thousands we speak of are disproportionally young black and brown men who now face one less obstacle of the many they endure in this country. We’ve also seen all drug-related charges drop by 23% on a judicial district level since the passage of amendment 64.

2. Increased funding of important services

Colorado is projected to have brought in over 125 million dollars in taxes for 2015. These monies are put into a fund to improve local public schools or are collected by the state to be divvied up via the Governor’s allocation plan. The Governor’s plan provides a snapshot as to what a public health approach to marijuana looks like—funds are distributed to public education, behavioral health, law enforcement and youth prevention.

It is interesting to see the wide ranging effects of legalisation on other parts of society be it on prisons, health care and education.

Read the Drug Policy Alliance’s blog post here.

We wish Colorado all the best in 2016!

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