What Illinois Can Learn From Colorado!
Six months after Colorado became the first state to legalize marijuana for recreational use, the numbers are starting to pour in and the news is good for the State of Colorado (as well as the State of Washington, which also legalized pot).
The legalization of marijuana in Colorado has resulted in the opening of about 100 retail marijuana shops and the creation of almost 10,000 jobs statewide in the cultivation, sales and distribution of legal marijuana. Marijuana-related sales are expected to total approximately $1 billion during 2014, resulting in approximately $10.8 million in tax revenues, a good portion of which goes to public schools in the state. In Colorado, medical marijuana is subject to a 2.9% sales tax and recreational pot is taxed at the rate of 12.9%. Where as in Chicago it’s still against the law. Read More about a Chicago drug lawyer.
The New York Times reported that “Because of the lag in reporting many health statistics, it may take years to know legal marijuana’s effect – if any – on teenage drug use, school expulsions or the number of fatal car crashes.” Some statistics may not be known, but some are:
- Fact: crime is down 10.1% in the City of Denver from the same period last year, with violent crimes dropping 5.2%.
- Fact: marijuana sales have generated $10.8 million in tax revenues, with $1.9 million going directly to improve Colorado public schools.
- Fact: $9 million is being designated for research into the efficacy of marijuana.
- Fact: thousands of jobs have been and continue to be created in the cannabis industry.
- Fact: home values in Colorado are up 8.7% in 2014.
- Fact: legal pot has not tarnished Colorado’s brand or image.
- Fact: six months after legalization, 54% of Coloradoans remain in support of legal marijuana.
- Fact: since January 2014, the Colorado State Patrol reported that the number of people pulled over for driving while under the influence of marijuana have accounted for only 12.5 percent of all DUI citations.
Law enforcement officials predicted “the apocalypse” if Colorado legalized marijuana for adults over the age of 21. Six months into legalization, however, those individuals have lost credibility since legalization has not caused an increase in adverse or criminal behavior. In fact, the State of Colorado has seen a huge drop in pot-related arrests, resulting in estimated savings of $12 to $40 million per year in law enforcement and court-related costs. Also, over the past decade, the State of Colorado averaged 10,000 arrests and/or citations for under-age minors in possession of marijuana and that number has been reduced to 900 arrests as of the end of June 2014.
According to a recent report by John Gettman, on a national level, criminal justice expenditures for marijuana-related enforcement total $7.6 billion each year, with $3.7 billion of that amount going to law enforcement, $853 million to courts and $3.1 billion going to corrections.
Forfeiture laws have been quite lucrative for law enforcement agencies across the nation and legalization of pot in Colorado and Washington has caused those agencies to refocus their efforts on preventing out-of-state distribution of the product that is legal in those two states. This has resulted in cops outside the States of Colorado and Washington pulling-over drivers simply because their cars display Colorado or Washington license plates.
Sixty-nine year old Colorado resident Darien Roseen filed a lawsuit in the District of Idaho claiming that a Gem State Trooper used “license-plate profiling” as a tactic to unlawfully detain him and search his vehicle for marijuana. Idaho State Trooper Klitch initially refused to state a reason for pulling over Roseen, but later claimed he was stopped for not signaling a turn into the rest area where he was pulled-over and detained and for bumping into two snow covered curbs, both of which claims were contested by Roseen. After 8 law enforcement officers wasted 3 hours searching in vain for drugs in Roseen’s vehicle, he was issued a citation for careless driving and was released from custody, along with his vehicle. Thereafter, Roseen filed a lawsuit seeking general and punitive damages against the Idaho law enforcement agency. More of these types of lawsuits can be expected, if law enforcement continues to engage in “license plate profiling.”
Overall, the great social experiment of legalizing marijuana in the States of Colorado and Washington is working well and proving that legalization of marijuana does not cause more crime and that legal pot produces jobs and creates tax revenues, all of which benefits the citizens who foot the bill for America’s failed war on drugs, specifically marijuana.