Since legalizing recreational marijuana in Colorado a year ago, the fruits of the cannabis movement are beginning to be shown, backed by statistical data, that even the staunchest critic couldn't deny.
According to a recent study
, published by the Drug Policy Alliance, marijuana legalization in the Rocky Mountain state has brought in noteworthy savings, reduction in crime rates, as well as significant tax revenue gains, not only from the sale of the plant but also it's byproducts (e.g. edibles) Not bad for a drug that's still on the federal government's schedule one narcotics list.
The alliance evaluated key statistics and determined that Colorado saved millions of dollars from not arresting people for marijuana possession. According to the study, 1,464 people were arrested for marijuana related crimes since legalization, compared to 9,011 in 2010, prior to legalization.
"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", says the study.
In relation to Colorado saving money since legalization, the study showed that crime rates have actually dropped, most notably due to the Colorado law, approved by voters in 2012, which legalized marijuana possession, as well as the sale and cultivation of plants for adults over the age of 21. Stated in the reports, shows a 9.5% decrease in burglaries, as well as an 8.9% decline in property crime in Denver. Perhaps the most telling of the data, is the 84% decrease in marijuana possession and arrests, directly contributed to legalization efforts.
In addition to savings and crime rate decreases, tax revenues from recreational marijuana brought the state an estimated $40.9 million, of which $8 million was set aside for youth prevention services, new school development, health care services, and community based organizations. Without the influx of marijuana sales due to legalization and the tax generated from them, these key services would have been left ignored or paid for directly by taxpayer money.
During the full year that it's been approved, recreational marijuana has paid for itself and then some, and even though some advocates claim it is not the deciding factor to all of Colorado's funding needs, it sure looks like it's part of the solution.