Depending on your opinion of marijuana legalization, Colorado is either a shining example proving all the benefits for allowing recreational cannabis or a modern-day Sodom and Gomorra where crime is rampant and society is falling apart, writes Joseph Misulonas. But only one of those viewpoints is actually backed up with data, statistics and facts.
Here are seven arguments against Colorado marijuana legalization that simply are not true:
1. Colorado Crime Rates Increased After Legalization
Not only is it not true, but the opposite is true. In just the first year of legalization, violent crime decreased 2.2 percent, burglaries by 9.5 percent and overall property crimes by 8.9 percent. While this certainly could be a case of “correlation does not equal causation,” it certainly proves that marijuana legalization did not increase crime in Colorado.
2. More Traffic Fatalities After Legalization
“Ok, so maybe crime doesn’t increase. But people getting high and causing car accidents is also a problem!” Well, actually no. Research from the first year of legalization found, once again, that traffic fatalities actually decreased. It’s also unclear how many traffic accidents involve marijuana. Meanwhile, we know that 25 percent of traffic fatalities do involve alcohol. Maybe someone should be more worried about that?
3. Marijuana Use Leads to Opioids
This is a popular argument from the current White House, most prominently Attorney General Jeff Sessions. But in reality, opioid deaths in Colorado have decreased since the state legalized marijuana, after years of only increases. Considering many of the conditions treated by opioids can also be affected by medical marijuana, this is a case where correlation probably does mean causation.
4. Marijuana Use by Teens is Skyrocketing
“Ok, maybe marijuana isn’t so bad. For adults! But what about teenagers? They’ll be able to access marijuana far more easily and start using at much higher rates!” Again, the opposite is true. The rate of marijuana use amongst teens in legal states is actually at the lowest point in decades.
5. It Will Affect Public Health
This argument is just non-sensical, but it’s trotted out a lot. People love to say that smoking marijuana is just as bad (or worse) than cigarettes. But there’s actually no study linking smoking cannabis with any major lung problems associated with cigarettes. In fact, the largest study ever done on the subject found smoking marijuana had almost no effect on lung health.
Also, marijuana has tons of medical uses, so this is just a dumb argument.
6. Emergency Room Visits for Marijuana Overdoses Increase Greatly
“If marijuana’s so good for your health, then why did emergency room visits for marijuana overdoses increase?” Because that’s simply not true. Despite everyone saying more people than ever are going to the emergency room for weed overdoses, ER visits in Colorado are actually down 25 percent from before legalization.
7. It Will Cost More to Enforce Legalization than Prohibition
Somehow people argue that allowing a drug to be sold legally and collecting tax revenue off of it is more expensive than keeping it illegal and putting law enforcement resources into keeping it that way. Another alternative to this argument is that states bordering legal states have higher law enforcement costs. In fact, two states sued Colorado for this very reason (it was thrown out by the Supreme Court). But the truth is that law enforcement costs decrease because the black market is neutered in legal states.