Colorado’s Marijuana Experiment: How’s That Working for You?

Every since Colorado and Washington (state) recently made the recreational use of marijuana legal, I have been keeping an eye out for the ramifications (if any) of these decisions. Admittedly I was skeptical at the time (and still am) of the wisdom of allowing this. From the limited returns of information I have seen so far, my skepticism has been justified, however I admit the jury is still out.

Marijuana-leaf_sized

How does such an ordinary looking plant cause so much strife?

I don’t follow this issue closely, but when I see articles about it I check them out as a matter of interest. The first article I noticed was a month or so ago, and I reported on it in one of my News Roundups. “Welfare Cash for Weed in Colorado.” This bothered me on a fundamental level, because I am vehemently opposed to being forced to pay for someone else’s recreational choices. Here’s an analogy. Let’s say I represent the government, and I am bigger and stronger than you, the regular citizen. I come up to you, take your wallet, and remove enough money for Bob to go to the movies, because he can’t afford to, and give that money to Bob. You are an avowed atheist, and Bob chooses to go see the movie God’s Not Dead, with what was formerly your money. Would this be okay with you? (Apparently it’s okay with some of the lawmakers in Colorado.)

Now there are more reports and studies coming out that we can use to see what impact the new laws in Colorado have upon the citizens of that state. Over at “The Daily Signal” there is a report that “Traffic Fatalities of Marijuana-Positive Drivers On Rise In Colorado.” Here are some of the findings, according to a peer-reviewed study, looking at Colorado highway fatalities since they legalized medical marijuana in 2009.

  • An increase in marijuana-related traffic fatalities in Colorado since 2009
  • An increase in marijuana-related traffic fatalities in Colorado compared to non-“medical marijuana” states since 2009
  • Alcohol-related fatalities remained the same

Related studies show that overall, highway fatalities have decreased in Colorado during that time, however, as you can see, fatalities related to marijuana usage have increased. Keep in mind, these results are only from a period between 2009-2011, after the state legalized medical marijuana. It will be interesting to see the results following the state’s legalization of recreational use in 2012. Here are the study’s results:

In Colorado, since mid-2009 when medical marijuana became commercially available and prevalent, the trend became positive in the proportion of drivers in a fatal motor vehicle crash who were marijuana-positive (change in trend, 2.16 (0.45), p<0.0001); in contrast, no significant changes were seen in NMMS [Non-medical marijuana states]. For both Colorado and NMMS, no significant changes were seen in the proportion of drivers in a fatal motor vehicle crash who were alcohol-impaired. [emphasis mine]

The Legalization of Marijuana in Colorado: The Impact” is a comprehensive study of the impact of marijuana usage in Colorado during a period of time before 2009 (early medical marijuana era), 2009 to present (medical marijuana expansion era) and 2012 to present (recreational marijuana era). Anyone interested in the subject should take a look at this study to see the trends in several different areas. One of the implications of this study is the rise of the usage of marijuana by under-aged teenagers. They report that:

In 2012, 10.47 percent of Colorado youth ages 12 to 17 were considered current marijuana users compared to 7.55 percent nationally. Colorado ranked fourth in the nation, and was 39 percent higher than the national average.

It seems to me that overall the trends aren’t looking good for the experiment of legalizing pot in Colorado. It may be that the citizens of that state will have to pay a heavy price for being “guinea pigs.” However, I am willing to admit that it is still early and additional data needs to be gathered before we have a better understanding of the implications. It seems to me however that according to the early trends, it ain’t lookin’ so hot.

I’d love to discuss these things with you. Any questions and comments that are in line with this page’s Commenting Policy will be published and responded to (to the best of my ability).

For more information on how I keep my worldview informed please go to Cross Roads Church.

H/T: Wintery Knight

More resources:

Marijuana: science, not hype, will clear the haze

Marijuana Is Harmful: Debunking 7 Myths Arguing It’s Fine

7 Harmful Side Effects Pot Legalization Has Caused in Colorado

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