The impact of decriminalized marijuana

~provided by New Opportunities

As other states begin to decriminalize recreational marijuana, one may wonder if it is a good idea to decriminalize marijuana in our state. There are currently nine states that have decriminalized marijuana.

It’s important to remember that even though there have been changes regarding possession and it may seem to be acceptable in those states, marijuana remains federally illegal. Here are some facts about the impact of decriminalized recreational marijuana in other states.

• Marijuana is 33 times stronger today than it was in the 1960’s. Smoked marijuana in 1965 had a THC level of 3 percent. Edibles, oils and tinctures had up to 99 percent THC levels in 2015.
• People are testing positive for marijuana at much higher rates. This creates “hiring hurdles” for employers who are struggling to find employees that can pass a pre-employment drug test.
• Employers face added cost which include increased injuries and accidents, workman’s comp claims, increased insurance premiums, missed deadlines, rework, overtime, and lost productivity.
• Emergency poison control calls for children aged 0-8 more than tripled in Colorado after legalization.
• Colorado reported marijuana-related traffic deaths increased 88 percent from 2013 to 2015.
• A 2017 study showed that marijuana users were more than twice as likely to move on to abuse prescription opioids.
• Marijuana offenses in Colorado elementary and high schools have increased 34% since legalization.

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New Opportunities Substance Abuse Treatment and Prevention Departments offer information, education, and consultation services to schools, businesses, and community based groups, many of which are free of charge. If you are interested in learning more on this or other substance abuse topics, please contact Nancy Rowedder, prevention consultant, at nrowedder [at] newopp [dot] org or call 712.792.9266.

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