Impact of Colorado Legalization of Marijuana


Executive Summary


The Legalization of Marijuana in Colorado: The Impact Vol. 1/August 2013 Rocky Mt. HIDTA

Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (RMHIDTA) will attempt to track the impact of marijuana legalization in the state of Colorado. This report will utilize, whenever possible, a comparison of three different eras in Colorado’s legalization history:

  • 2006 – 2008:  Early medical marijuana era

  • 2009 – 2012:  Medical marijuana expansion era

  • 2012 – Present:  Medical marijuana expansion and recreational use era

Rocky Mountain HIDTA will try to collect comparative data in a variety of areas, including but not limited to:

  • Traffic fatalities

  • Youth marijuana use

  • Adult marijuana use

  • Emergency room admissions

  • Marijuana-related exposure cases

  • Diversion of Colorado marijuana outside the state

    There are other areas that require more extensive data collection and in-depth research such as: tax revenue vs. cost, tourism, and impact on business. Rocky Mountain HIDTA will reach out to experts to determine if there is an interest in conducting long-term studies in those fields.

    This is the first report and foundational for future reports. It is divided into six sections with each providing data on the impact of legalization prior to and during the creation of the medical marijuana industry in Colorado. Generally, except for diversion of Colorado marijuana, there is limited data for 2012 and 2013. The sections are as follows:

    Colorado Driving Fatalities: From 2006 to 2011, traffic fatalities decreased in Colorado 16 percent, but fatalities involving drivers testing positive for marijuana increased 114 percent.


Colorado Youth Marijuana Use: In 2011, the national average for youth 12 to 17 years old considered “current” marijuana users was 7.64 percent which was the highest average since 1981. The Colorado average percent was 10.72.

Colorado Adult Marijuana Use: In 2011, the national average for young adults ages 18 to 25 considered current marijuana users was at 18.7 percent. The Colorado average was 27.26 percent.

Colorado Emergency Room – Marijuana Admissions: From 2005 through 2008 there was an average of 741 visits per year to the emergency room in Colorado for marijuana-related incidents involving youth. That number increased to 800 visits per year between 2009 and 2011.

Colorado Marijuana-Related Exposure Cases: From 2005 through 2008, the yearly average number of marijuana-related exposures for children ages 0 to 5 years was 4. For 2009 through 2012, that number increased 200 percent to an average of 12 per year.

Diversion of Colorado Marijuana (General): From 2005 to 2008, compared to 2009 to 2012, interdiction seizures involving Colorado marijuana quadrupled from an average per year of 52 to 242. During the same period, the average number of pounds of Colorado marijuana seized per year increased 77 percent from an average of 2,220 to 3,937 pounds. A total of 7,008 pounds was seized in 2012.

Diversion of Colorado Marijuana (Postal Packages): In 2010, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service seized 15 packages with Colorado marijuana destined for other states. Seizures steadily increased through 2012 when 158 parcels were seized. From 2010 to 2012 Colorado marijuana seized by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service increased from 57 to 262 pounds.

There is much more data in each of the sections, which can be used as a standalone document. Each of the sections is on the Rocky Mountain HIDTA website and can be printed individually. Go to 


More on the full report................ 

Impact of Colorado Legalization of Marijuana