The Colorado Department of Public Safety’s new study on the impacts of legal commercial marijuana in the state – with 2014 being the first year – opens with several important caveats. One, it is still too early to draw many conclusions because much of the material presented is prior to commercialization or covers only the first year.
Still, there are some numbers that reflect startling change. The total number of marijuana arrests decreased by 46 percent between 2012 and 2014. The total number of marijuana related court filings dropped 81 percent between 2012 and 2015, with felony filings down 45 percent. Simple possession filings dropped 88 percent.
However, the Colorado State Patrol reported that fatalities in which a driver tested positive for THC-only or THC-in-combination with other drugs increased by 44 percent, from 55 in 2013 to 79 in 2014. But the Patrol reported that summons for driving under the influence of marijuana decreased 1 percent between 2014-2015.
In the fiscal ledger, the numbers may well prove a harbinger of years to come. Total state revenue from taxes, licenses and fees increased from $76 million in 2014 to $135 million in 2015, a jump of 77 percent in one year. Excise tax revenue dedicated to school capital construction was $35 million in 2015. In December 2015, there were 2,538 licensed marijuana businesses in Colorado, with 70 percent of that number concentrated in Denver (1,112), El Paso (308), Pueblo (202), and Boulder (169) counties.