Colorado’s anticipated marijuana report details youth usage, driving and crime over the last 5 years

After five years of data collection, the Colorado Department of Public Safety released its much-anticipated baseline report on the impacts of marijuana legalization.

The data provide glimpses for the first time into the how legalization has impacted several highly-charged subjects, including usage among young people and driving impairment.

The report shows that Colorado has not experienced an increase in marijuana use among young people, although it was the single most common reason for school expulsions in the 2016-17 school year. Marijuana also has not impacted graduation rates or drop-out rates Graduation rates have increased while drop-out rates have decreased since 2012.

Marijuana’s impact on driving is a mixed bag, the report found. The number of fatalities where a driver tested positive for any cannabinoid increased to 21 percent in 2017 from 11 percent in 2013.

However, the percent of drivers who tested above the legal limit of THC decreased to 7.5 percent in 2017 from 11.6 percent in 2016 while the number of citations for marijuana-only impairment stayed steady at around 7 percent over the 5-year time period, the report said. Overall, Colorado State Patrol DUI cases were down between 2014 and 2017.

This report — which includes data on marijuana-related topics including crime, impaired driving, hospitalizations and ER visits, usage rates, effects on youth and more — is the end product of a 2013 bill passed by the state legislature to study the impacts of marijuana legalization.

“This is exactly the kind of data collection we need to inform our regulatory and law enforcement framework,” Gov. John Hickenlooper said in a news release. “We now have that ever-critical baseline from which we can spot trends so Colorado’s leaders understand where our efforts are succeeding and identify areas where we need to focus additional research, resources or even new policy.”

Other highlights from the report include:

  • Rates of hospitalization with possible marijuana exposures increased steadily from 2000 through 2015
  • Marijuana seizures by the U.S. Postal Service have increased steadily since 2010
  • Filings in organized crime cases increased to 199 in 2017 from 31 in 2012
  • Federal agencies have made significant seizures on public lands, an indicator of the size of black market in Colorado.

The full study can be found online.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates throughout the day.

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Author: Sam Tabachnik
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