What is the Impact of Legalizing Recreational Marijuana in Colorado?
The legalization of marijuana in Colorado allows residents aged 21 and above to possess and use limited amounts of the substance. While the total number of arrests has dropped since legalization, the arrest rate among black people remains disproportionately high compared to white people.
The state has also experienced other unintended consequences after legalizing marijuana. Criminal defense lawyers in Colorado Springs explore the various changes and how they affect drug crime charges.
Is There an Increase in Recreational Marijuana Use Since Its Legalization?
Research shows an increase in marijuana use since its legalization. Usage among people aged 12 years and older increased by approximately 26% in 2021, 61% higher than the national average. Consumption among those ages 18 and older increased by 20% and 10% among those ages 18 and 25.
Legally available marijuana for adults has brought an increase in adolescent substance use due to increased availability and greater social acceptance. Legalization may also pave the way for the introduction of new marijuana formulations, such as edibles and vapes with potentially higher potencies.
As a result, Colorado Springs marijuana cultivation lawyers say that the past decade has also seen an increase in marijuana-related emergency room visits, hospitalizations, poison control calls, DUIs, and fatal crashes where drivers tested positive for intoxication with the substance.
What is the Effect of Marijuana Legalization on Impaired Driving and Traffic Fatalities?
One area that has experienced significant changes since the legalization of marijuana is the area of driving under the influence. For example, marijuana-related traffic deaths increased by 151% in 2017, while all traffic deaths increased by 35%. A survey by the Colorado Department of Transportation found that 69% of self-identified marijuana users admitted to driving under the influence.
What are the Effects of Marijuana Legalization on Law Enforcement and Drug Crimes?
The National Institute of Justice conducted a study in June 2020 to establish the effects of marijuana legalization on law enforcement. The study revealed the move has led to an increase in the crime clearance rate. It gives the impression that legalization may result in a net positive redistribution in police human resource allocation.
Overall, the criminal justice system is witnessing a smaller number of people processed for non-violent marijuana offenses. Medical marijuana laws have resulted in significant reductions in both violent and property crime rates. The establishment of a highly regulated adult market enables police to reallocate resources to reduce the illicit market.
Other Effects of Legalization from a Legal Perspective
Marijuana cultivation attorneys in Colorado Springs identify key impacts of legalizing marijuana. One significant change is that it has brought cannabis out of the underground illegal market, legitimizing it for businesses to engage in its trade. However, businesses are bound by strict laws in the sale and distribution of marijuana.
Additionally, legalization has been an essential step in drawing attention to the rampant racial bias in marijuana-related arrests. While the use of the substance is equally distributed across social strata, marijuana law is not equally distributed across various social groups. Notably, people from minority groups and the poor are more likely to be arrested for simple marijuana crimes.
African Americans are more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession and other related offenses than whites. If you or your loved one were arrested on what you believe to be racial bias in marijuana crimes, contact experienced Colorado Springs criminal defense attorneys to fight for and protect your rights.
Given that Marijuana is Now Legal, What Should I Do if Arrested for Marijuana-Related Offenses?
Despite the legalization of marijuana, you still could be arrested for violating drug laws in Colorado. If you’re arrested and charged with misdemeanor marijuana-related crimes, contact skilled marijuana cultivation attorneys in Colorado Springs for legal counsel and representation. They can advise you of your rights and options in defending yourself against the charges.
Marijuana Laws in Colorado
The cultivation, sale, and quantity of marijuana you can possess is heavily regulated in Colorado. Having more than two ounces and up to six ounces of the substance is a level 2 drug misdemeanor that attracts the following penalties:
- 3-12 months in jail or
- A fine of $250-$1,000 or both
Being in possession of more than six ounces of marijuana attracts a penalty of 6-18 months in jail or a fine of between $500 and $5,000. Other penalties for marijuana offenses, based on the quantity and type of crime, are:
- A fine of up to $100 for the sale, transfer, or dispensing of more than one ounce but less than two ounces of marijuana
- 15 days in jail or a $100 fine for the display of more than two ounces
- 2-6 years in prison and a fine of between $2,000 and $500,000 for selling two to four pounds of the substance to the minor and 4-12 years in prison or a fine of between $3,000 and $750,000 for selling more than five pounds to a minor
- 1-12 years in prison or a fine of between 1,000 and $750,000 for the unlawful processing, cultivation, or manufacturing of any illegal amount of marijuana.
Your marijuana cultivation attorneys in Colorado can evaluate the circumstances of the case and help you defend yourself against the charges. Depending on their skill level and knowledge of marijuana laws in Colorado, you could have the charges dropped or penalties reduced.
A Skilled Marijuana Lawyer Providing Legal Counsel on Marijuana Laws
The legalization of marijuana has led to an increase in its sale, possession, and use. However, you could still be charged with marijuana offenses if you violate the law despite the legalization. It would help to consult experienced criminal defense attorneys in Colorado Springs for legal insights into how legalization affects your rights and how to protect yourself.
The Lux Law Firm has knowledgeable criminal defense lawyers who can help you navigate the system if you’re arrested or charged for marijuana-related offenses. Don’t let criminal charges beat you. Call us at 719-451-7469 or contact us online to schedule a FREE case evaluation.