On January 1, 2014, Colorado made history as the first state to legalize the sale of recreational marijuana. Since then, adults aged 21 and over are allowed to purchase and use certain amounts of recreational weed. They may also grow a small number of cannabis plants as long as they are properly secured. It is now one of the most extensively consumed products in Colorado. Tax revenue from the sale of recreational marijuana have been earmarked for the construction of schools, according to state officials.
Half of the voters in Colorado supported the amendment, while the rest opposed. The electorate doesn’t seem to regret its decision. A year after the legalization of marijuana, the state reported reduced crime rates, a decrease in traffic casualties, an increase in jobs, and increased tax revenue and economic growth.
While Colorado, Washington, Alaska, and Oregon are thus far the only states to have legalized recreational marijuana (with Oregon’s law going into effect in July), the war on drugs hasn’t stopped. Fears for public safety and health have risen as the demand for marijuana has grown. People opposing the amendment say that the changes to cannabis law have not necessarily caused the decrease of crime rates in Colorado. They point to a past incident in which a man consumed marijuana-infused candy, began to rave about the end of the world, and shot and killed his wife. In addition, a growing number of children and adults are being affected by the consequences of legalized marijuana. More children are being treated annually for secondhand THC absorption, while the number of teens admitted to drug treatment centers for marijuana abuse have doubled in Colorado.
Recently, sheriffs from the states of Colorado, Nebraska, and Kansas joined forces to target Colorado Amendment 64. The officers said that the new marijuana policy is objectionable and obliges them to disobey. They think that what Colorado has done is illegal and unconstitutional. An anti-drug group also filed a case against Colorado lawmakers, claiming that by allowing the legal sale of marijuana, the lawmakers are breaking federal law.
Marijuana was illegal for a very long time. Now that it’s legal in the state of Colorado, many people are unsure about how to approach the new law. Although Colorado voters chose to legalize marijuana, others are less pleased. The continuing division of the electorate will be something to watch as the long-term effects of Colorado’s new policy make themselves known.