Colorado's revenue from taxes, licenses, and fees on marijuana from January to April 2014.
Colorado's total expected revenue from taxes, licenses, and fees on marijuana in 2014.
LEGAL WEED'S CONSEQUENCES
IMPACT ON NEIGHBOURING STATES:
HOW SALES HAVE BEEN GOING:
Change in Denver's violent crime rate.
Spent on recreational marijuana
Spent on medical marijuana
Change in Denver's drug and narcotics violations.
Change in Denver's property crime rate.
Denver's Jan-May 2014 crime data compared with Jan-May 2013
Six months later, how have recreational pot shops affected Colorado?
When recreational marijuana stores first opened their doors in the US state of Colorado on January 1, opponents predicted dire consequences: an influx of drug traffickers, a spike in fatal car accidents, and more crime.
For their part, supporters claimed that legal weed could raise millions of dollars in tax revenue.
Six months later, what have the results been?
"Everybody wants this high-grade stuff coming out of Colorado… We have a lot more cases. The amount has picked up and the majority of what we’re seeing now is the edible product; that’s become the big thing now."
Sheriff Adam Hayward
Deuel County, Nebraska
"There has been a noticeable increase in crimes and the side effects of legalised marijuana in Colorado... We have several investigations currently open of people who have purchased marijuana in Colorado or had friends purchase marijuana for them who live here in this county. And it’s unlawful. Nebraska decriminalised less than an ounce many years ago; however, when you’re dealing and distributing that makes it a felony."
Sheriff Harry Gillway
Kimball County, Nebraska
Undersheriff Derek Kincannon
Cimarron County, Oklahoma
"It’s hard to say right now because we ... don’t have the manpower to really get out and work the highway much. But there’s been a few arrests made of people coming from Colorado. … [As far as drugged driving, it’s] pretty much the same."
The Denver Post: Amendment 64 Results
Colorado Department of Revenue: Marijuana Tax Data
Denver Police Department: Crime Maps and Statistics
State of Colorado Budget Proposals
Gun by Laurène Smith from The Noun Project
Mug Shot by Luis Prado from The Noun Project
Drugs by Julie Collard from The Noun Project
Marijuana by Gareth from The Noun Project
Statistics show that overall crime is decreasing. While some stats such as the number of drug and narcotics violations has risen, property and violent crime in Denver, the state's capital, has decreased. Tax revenue from all marijuana sales is projected to be close to $100m in 2014.
Amendment 64 posed the question of legalisation to Colorado residents in a 2012 state referendum. While 54.8% of the total state population voted yes, only 33 of Colorado's 64 counties had a majority of the vote in favour of the legislation.
Heavily populated counties like Denver, Jefferson, Adams, and Boulder voted yes, while the rural eastern-planes counties voted no. Counties with heavy tourism and ski traffic like Summit, San Miguel, and Pitkin overwhelmingly voted in favour of legalisation.
Percent that voted for legalisation in 2012
Marijuana taxes collected in 2014 (Jan-Apr)
Now that retail sales of recreational marijuana have been legal for six months, which counties have seen the most sales?
Counties with large populations like Denver, El Paso, and Jefferson have generated the bulk of sales, but counties with smaller populations which border other states have also seen a jump in sales.
quoting colorado's sheriffs:
ANALYSING THE MARKET:
“People don’t understand how to use [infused marijuana products]. They eat a cookie and nothing happens … so they eat another cookie, and pretty soon they’ve taken 10 times the dose level recommended and they’re paranoid and think they’re going to die. Those kinds of people are impacting the emergency medical services to a higher degree.”
"We have seen a slight increase in driving under the influence of marijuana... We are seeing more juveniles with marijuana as well. Crime is on the decline. It has been for the last two years ... I can’t say if that has anything to do with marijuana either way. There have been some burglaries that have taken place [of marijuana-related businesses] … 54 burglaries, is my understanding, as of May 25."
Sheriff Bill Masters
San Miguel County
"We had a marijuana-related homicide amongst some drug dealers who were exporting marijuana out of the state, but we haven’t had robberies of retail stores or medical marijuana outlets, we haven’t had burglaries, we haven’t had anything I could say is directly related to the sale [of recreational marijuana]."
Sheriff Joe Pelle
Sonny Jackson, Police Department Spokesman
"The only area of note at this point would be an increase in investigations involving explosions related to the process of marijuana concentrate 'manufacturing' … Usually butane is used to flush through the drug and make the concentrate. The fumes tend to become very explosive."
Steven Reams, Bureau Chief
"The biggest problem [with legalisation] is the obvious problem that it creates for law enforcement. You’ve got a federal law that’s at odds with a state law. Even on the highways, when you stop a person, as law enforcement officers we say we’re sworn to uphold the federal law and our US government’s constitution. And yet we can’t do that if we’re upholding our state laws."
Walt Stowe, Public Information Officer
“We have had underage possession cases, which are approached realistically no different then underage alcohol, probably even less severely... The impact it has on our agency and throughout the state of Colorado is that officers are now tasked with increasing their training in identifying intoxicated drivers.”
Sergeant Alex Iacovetto
Anecdotal evidence suggests that, for the most part, critics’ fears of rising crime have not materialised. Al Jazeera asked Colorado’s sheriffs - the top law enforcement officials for each county - whether they have noticed major changes since January 1 that could be attributed to the change of law. This is what some of them had to say.
While retail recreational sales of marijuana have only been legal since January, medical marijuana has been legal in Colorado since 2000. High taxes and licensing fees for shops wishing to sell marijuana recreationally have caused many customers to use the medical system rather than the recreational system to purchase their cannabis. Most shops that do sell for recreational use continue to sell for medical use as well.
Reports of overeager drug tourists and an influx in trafficking to one of the seven states Colorado borders, have come in. Al Jazeera spoke with sheriffs and law enforcement officals in states that border Colorado to see what impact they've seen in their counties since legalisation.
Sheriff Patrick Casias
Colfax County, New Mexico
“There has been a slight increase in finding people who have purchased marijuana in Colorado and brought it back to New Mexico, we’re right on the border ... [but] the majority of the people [in New Mexico] go right into Colorado ... they stay in Colorado and don’t bring it back into New Mexico.”
79.1% VOTED YES
TYPE OF SALES
HOVER OVER THE MAPS TO SEE MORE INFO
50.2% VOTED YES
TYPE OF SALES
66.1% VOTED YES
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56.8% VOTED YES
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66.5% VOTED YES
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65.9% VOTED YES
TYPE OF SALES