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Legal Pot in Colorado Working Out Fine So Far

When Colorado voters approved a referendum to legalize the use and sale of marijuana in that state, the drug warriors made all sorts of dystopic predictions. Crime will skyrocket! Roads will become killing fields due to impaired driving! Dogs and cats, living together! It’s only been a few months, but so far things are going just fine.

Since retail sales of recreational marijuana began in Colorado, revenues from marijuana sales have continued trending up. At the same time, crime in Denver, home of most recreational marijuana shops in the state, has dropped nearly across the board.

Colorado and Denver’s experiment with legalization is, in other words, going well. The state is seeing its coffers filled with some extra revenue, as expected. And crime, despite warnings from law enforcement officials, isn’t rising…

The Denver Police Department’s crime data shows that violent crime from January through April dropped by 5.6 percent compared to the same time period last year, and robberies in particular fell by 4.8 percent.

Major property crimes also dropped by 11.4 percent, with burglaries falling by 4.7 percent, compared to the same time last year…

All of that is despite warnings from law enforcement officials that crime, particularly robberies and burglaries, would rise following legalization. Two months back, Denver District Attorney Mitch Morrissey told me that legal marijuana was already causing more crimes. But if that’s the case, it’s not showing up in the city’s crime statistics.

It’s early, of course, and these are very short-term trends and only correlations. But I’d be willing to bet that the trend continues long-term as well. They have nothing to sell but fear itself; reality rarely cooperates.

Comments

  1. Trebuchet says

    I’ve been reading that the biggest problem is how to handle the cash, since banks, being forbidden by Federal law, don’t want to touch it.

    Here in the other state to legalize, I don’t think the law has quite taken effect yet. According to the Port Townsend, WA, Leader a couple of months ago, legalization will actually decrease the number of dispensaries in the area as the existing medical dispensaries exceed the number allotted under the new law.

  2. says

    It only makes sense. The police previously searching minorities for pot and rifling university-aged gym bags for the wicked green bud must now be off solving actual crimes. Not like they reduced the amount of officers, so you gotta do something with them…

  3. marcus says

    The law in Colorado is a bit more hands off and I think a little better organized with respect to the medical/recreation coordination. Here med shops were given first shot at rec licenses, so while there are still limits to the number of shops allowed, it didn’t affect the established businesses negatively. This only make sense as these folks already had the infrastructure, background checks,credentials, employees etc.in place. Communities are also allowed to opt out of rec sales completely.
    One thing that dislike intensely about the WA law is that prohibits cultivation for personal use. In CO a household is allowed two plants per adult president. It’s like saying you can’t make your own beer FFS! I will refrain from an extended rant but I do believe it is a significant difference in the two approaches to legalization.

  4. Pierce R. Butler says

    marcus @ # 4 – but how many Colorado households have even one adult president?

  5. suttkus says

    No, no, you’re looking at it the wrong way. The crime rate is way up! The only thing making it look like it’s down is they’re no longer counting marijuana use as a crime. If you change the number of crimes, you can’t compare the numbers, that’s simple logic. Now that they have fewer crimes, it looks like the crime rate has gone down, but it’s just an illusion! Just you wait for the new SECRET crime rate to run out of control!

    I fully expect to see this argument delivered seriously any day now.

  6. marcus says

    Pierce @5 We only have one in my household. Considering that I am the man of the family… I pretty much shut up and do what I’m told. (Okay, I whine occasionally.)

  7. robertfoster says

    This is capitalism’s worst fear — a relaxed, laid back workforce content with it’s lot in life.

  8. says

    “The one unfortunate side effect of legalization we didn’t see coming has been a sharp increase in house fires and explosions due to people extracting highly-flammable hash oil.’

    Also, a single-serving bag of Cheetos now goes for $11.

  9. johnhodges says

    BUT… BUT… BUT… What about the PROFITS of the alcohol industry? Are they down? This cannot be allowed!

    See the book MARIJUANA IS SAFER by Steve Fox, Paul Armentano, and Mason Tvert. MJ is safer both for the user (is is much less toxic to the body) and for the society (less violence and irresponsible behavior).

  10. caseloweraz says

    Since retail sales of recreational marijuana began in Colorado, revenues from marijuana sales have continued trending up. At the same time, crime in Denver, home of most recreational marijuana shops in the state, has dropped nearly across the board.

    Won’t somebody think of the prison-industrial complex? How are we going to keep the prisons full?

  11. caseloweraz says

    It’s bad form to comment on an inadvertent typo, but…

    Pierce R. Butler: marcus @ # 4 – but how many Colorado households have even one adult president?

    None, I guess. Texas is probably way out front in this category, with two. Georgia has one, New York has one. That’s it.

  12. Ichthyic says

    Let me tell you the story of the attempt to legalize pot here in New Zealand….

    a few years back, as happens every few years or so, there was another small movement (supported by most of law enforcement here, btw) to legalize pot.

    legislators, being the conservative type atm, realized that wouldn’t fly with their conservative base, so hemmed and hawed, hoping the issue would die down….

    then, all of a sudden, they decided to legalize the sale of “artificial” cannabis products (using chemically produced cannibanoid substitutes). Seemed an odd thing to do, given that they said they didn’t want to legalize pot itself.

    oh, did I mention they never bothered to regulate the products that went on sale in ANY WAY? No health tests were done, no regulation of pricing or distribution, nothing.

    of course, since there was not even the slightest bit of experimentation done by the department of health, there were people who got sick from various products… as you might expect with a totally unregulated chemical industry. (Imagine if your government suddenly decided to make your street-vendor’s crystal meth products legal).

    It took a year, but the (actually surprisingly few) negative medical cases now all of a sudden “forced” the government to take action, and ban the new artificial cannabis products.

    shocker!

    now of course, nobody is talking about legalizing pot….

    fucking stupid people are letting the government here get away with this crap, which was little more than a bait and switch scheme in reverse, really.

    watch out for the same scheme coming to a State near you.

  13. says

    Ichthyic “watch out for the same scheme coming to a State near you.”
    Won’t happen. Hobbits get stopped at the border. Ironically, they shall not pass.

  14. says

    This comes as zero surprise to anyone living in Colorado.

    Yeah, there are now pot shops in those parts of town that have strip clubs, head shops, tattoo parlors, etc. Also known as Denver. It’s a step up.

  15. billyeager says

    Whilst the banks seem awfully reluctant to handle the cash from the entirely-state-legal retail sector (kinda ironic given the proven history of banks quite happily processing billions in Columbian cartel drug money), I’d like to also mention how they are now barring customers from having accounts with them anymore, solely on the basis of claimed morality ‘issues’, namely, adult industry workers having their accounts closed and refused facilities because the bank has decided they object to a person’s career.
    One adult industry actress who has had her bank account closed and refused further service even explained how the account in question was nothing to do with her work income.

    In the context of banks refusing to do business with cannabis retailers, one has to ask whether they, too, will also fall foul of their bank arbitrarily declaring them immoral, irrespective of the actual legal situation regarding federal law.

    Next up, ‘Big Abortion’ tackled by the fine, upstanding, Christian morality imposed by their bankers, no longer able to function, having been refused facilities?

  16. Ichthyic says

    Ironically, they shall not pass.

    Oh! They’ll pass alright.

    They’ll pass like a kidney stone.

  17. iknklast says

    I don’t know the veracity of any of the reports I’ve heard, but Nebraska is claiming that the crime and drug rates are going up here because of it. Since Nebraskans are horrified about their Colorado neighbors legalizing pot, and since they need to have dire predictions come true in order to not look like totally failed prophets, they could be making some of this up. Or it may be the difference between a state that criminalizes this behavior and one that doesn’t being neighbors. Right now, I don’t trust the Nebraska law enforcement to tell us the truth, but I will withold judgement either way until I have more information.

  18. marcus says

    @ 20 “Or it may be the difference between a state that criminalizes this behavior and one that doesn’t being neighbors.”
    This.
    WY, UT and AZ all have their boxers in a bunch about the inevitable rise in crime that is going to occur in their states due to pot legalization here in CO. My read of their statements anecdotally confirms your speculation. Their gloom and doom predictions have so far been primarily about trafficking and use, (also impaired driving) primarily by their own constituents, because of increased availability here.

  19. Pierce R. Butler says

    marcus @ # 7: I pretty much shut up and do what I’m told. (Okay, I whine occasionally.)

    That first part seems to match the performance of recent national chief executives, but you don’t qualify unless you can do it with a smile: “Yes sir, Mr Dimon!”

    marcus @ # 21: WY, UT and AZ all have their boxers in a bunch …

    New Mexico, otoh, knows y’all can’t send nothing their way they don’t already have, with bells on…

  20. dingojack says

    MO (#15) – they’ll just get through a hole in the big fence then across the scary wood (with the help of Tom Bomadril). No problems, won’t even have to use the ring.
    Dingo

  21. marcus says

    @23 When will Obama finally do something about the massive numbers of these illegal imaginary aliens crawling through holes in the fence? They drink all our beer, they smoke all our weed, always prattin’ on about the “Shire”. Thankfully they’re too lazy to try to steal our jobs.

  22. eric says

    @21:

    Their gloom and doom predictions have so far been primarily about trafficking and use, (also impaired driving) primarily by their own constituents, because of increased availability here.

    I would totally expect a rise in the police catching pot-smokers in the act of trafficking, because they now know where to look…at people driving across the state line. But this does not say much about a rise in pot use in those states. It just means, ironically, that they are using their peoples’ tendency to try and obey the law as much as possible to catch more of them.

    I would believe a rise in use in those states IF they had numbers to back that up. It seems plausible to me that that could occur – that there are pot-smokers out there who will smoke more if they can buy it legally. But its also plausible to me that the numbers don’t change much. So on that question, I’d ask for data. For the “police detecting more trafficking” I’m willing to believe it without data because its obvious how this could occur. The east coast has a direct analog of this – police catch more people buying illegal fireworks near the state lines between states where they are legal and states where they are not. Duh, no kidding!

  23. dingojack says

    Why would they wanna drink what is, for all intents and porpoises, merely a facsimile of copulating in a canoe?
    ;) Dingo

  24. says

    It doesn’t even sense that legalized pot sales in Colorado would lead to higher crime (aside from pot possession/use itself) in Colorado or in any neighboring state. Pot does not make people go crazy and commit random acts of violence or vandalism. Pot-heads need money for their habit, but it’s unlikely that any will have to resort to theft in order to get it. It’s not that expensive or hard to come by. That leaves driving under the influence as the only likely crime to increase, and while it’s an issue, it’s a fairly minor one. (This is all assuming that legalized pot leads to more consumption, which itself is unclear.)

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