The state of Colorado has seen a surge in the economy since it legalized recreational marijuana. In fact, by legalizing pot, the state has enjoyed tax revenue gains from the sale of the drug and its byproducts, and has seen reduced crime rates. It also has spent much less on law enforcement resources.
The new statistics were reported in a study conducted by the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA). The study found that Colorado saved millions of dollars due to the change in laws. Police arrested only about 1,500 people for marijuana-related offenses, compared to about 9,000 in 2010 before the legalization.
The study pointed out, “Given that arrests such as these cost roughly $300 to adjudicate, it is reasonable to infer that the state is saving millions in adjudicatory costs” for pot-related arrests and prosecutions.
Additionally, the tax revenue from recreational marijuana sales earned Colorado at least $40.9 million.
During a teleconference last week, Colorado Representative Jared Polis stated that, “We’ve had great experience in Colorado and we hope the rest of the country can learn from that. I’m encouraged by the general direction.”
The Colorado law was approved by state voters in 2012. It legalizes the possession, sale and growing of marijuana plants for those 21 and older.
The study also reported that, in stark contrast to what critics of the law predicted, crime rates have actually dipped since the law was enacted. Results showed that there was a 9.5% decrease in burglaries in Denver and an 8.9% decline in overall property crime throughout the city.
Art Way, the DPA’s Colorado director happily stated that, “The doomsday vision of those who support continued prohibition has not come to fruition.”
Way claims the legalization of marijuana in Colorado has made the criminal justice “less unfair.” He refers to pot as a “gateway” into criminal justice systems across the country and by legalizing the recreational use of the drug, people are staying out of jail.
Moreover, a study released by the ACLU determined that black people are up to eight times more likely to get arrested for marijuana-related offenses than white people.
Andrew Freeman, director of marijuana coordination for Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper, stated that marijuana tax revenue had covered the costs of regulating the drug and funded programs aimed at keeping youth away from abusing drugs and alcohol.