New Mexico High Intensity Drug Intensity Area Issues Bulletin About Dangers Of Legalized Marijuana

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New Mexico High Intensity Drug Intensity Area Issues Bulletin About Dangers Of Legalized Marijuana

According to the New Mexico High Intensity Drug Intensity Area (NMHIDTA) legalization of marijuana presents dangers and unexpected consequences.

  • Since Colorado, Washington, Oregon, and DC legalized marijuana, past-month use of the drug rose above the national average among youth aged 12 – 17 in all four jurisdictions.
  • In Anchorage, Alaska school suspensions for marijuana use and possession in- creased more than 141 percent from 2015 (legalization implemented) to 2017.
  • The latest 2014/2015 results show Colorado youth ranked number one in the nation for past month marijuana use.
  • ER visits related to marijuana in Colorado have increased more than 81.4 percent from the year prior to legalization (2011) through 2015 – from 6,305 in 2011 to 11,439 in 2014.
  • Since 2012, the percentage of Colorado school suspensions for marijuana has risen from 17 percent (2012-2014) to 23 percent (2014-2016) and marijuana remains the top offense in school.
  • Marijuana legalization is linked to increases in driving while under the influence of marijuana. In Washington State, the percentage of traffic fatalities where the driver tested positive for recent marijuana use increased 104.6 percent the year recreational sales began (2014). This represents a 64.9 percent increase from the year before the legalization law passed (2011). In Colorado, the percentage of traffic fatalities where the driver tested positive for marijuana use increased 48.9 percent from the year before legalization (63 deaths in 2011) to 2015 (115 deaths).
  • There is no real, measurable way to determine driver impairment. Blood tests only deter- mine the presence of cannabis products in a person’s system, making it difficult to secure convictions for marijuana impaired driving.
  • Marijuana legalization is associated with increased homeless population. In Denver, the homeless shelter usage increased by 50 percent after legalization (July 2012 to November 2015). The increase was attributed to new arrivals there due to the state’s marijuana policies.
  • In Colorado, adult past month marijuana use increased 71 percent in the three-year average from 2013 to 2015 since they legalized recreational marijuana, compared to the three-year average prior to legalization (2010 – 2012) (Rocky Mountain HIDTA, 2017). Colorado college age past month marijuana use for 2014/2015 was 61 percent higher than the nation- al average (Rocky Mountain HIDTA, 2017).
  • In 2012, Colorado was promised funds from marijuana taxes to benefit the communities, particularly the schools. According to Superintendent Dr. Harry Bull, the only thing that the legalization of marijuana has brought to the school district has been marijuana.
  • In Colorado, the marijuana tax brings in the equivalent of about 2 percent of the budget and in Washington State the amount is about 1.2 percent of the general fund revenue. Most of the states that have legalized marijuana earmark the revenue for law enforcement, drug treatment, and other specific programs, which does not help the state’s financial flexibility.
  • In California, the legalization of marijuana has actually led to an increase of illicit marijuana grows within the state by cartels who operate in the black market.
  • Marijuana legalization has had serious ramifications for businesses in legalized states. In the three-year period following legalization in Colorado and Washington, positive test re- sults for marijuana increased almost 75 percent for general U.S. workforce and federally mandated safety sensitive workforce, from 5.1 to 8.9 percent (Quest Diagnostics, 2017).
  • Marijuana is a Schedule I drug. Any use and/or possession of marijuana is a violation of federal law.

Learn more at Read the Smart Approaches to Marijuana report, Lesson Learned from Marijuana Legalization in Four U.S. States and D.C.