In 2013, following the passage of Amendment 64 which allows for the retail sale and possession of marijuana, the Colorado General Assembly enacted Senate Bill 13-283. This bill mandated that the Division of Criminal Justice in the Department of Public Safety conduct a study of the impacts of Amendment 64, particularly as these relate to law enforcement activities.
This report seeks to establish and present the baseline measures for the metrics specified in S.B. 13-283 (C.R.S. 24-33.4-516). The information presented here should be interpreted with caution.
The majority of the data sources vary considerably in terms of what exists historically and the reliability of some sources has improved over time.
Consequently, it is difficult to draw conclusions about the potential effects of marijuana legalization and commercialization on public safety, public health, or youth outcomes, and this may always be the case due to the lack of historical data. Furthermore, the measurement of available data elements can be affected by very context of marijuana legalization.
For example, the decreasing social stigma regarding marijuana use could lead individuals to be more likely to report use on surveys and also to health workers in emergency departments and poison control centers, making marijuana use appear to increase when perhaps it has not.
Additionally, law enforcement officials and prosecuting attorneys continue to struggle with enforcement of the complex and sometimes conflicting marijuana laws that remain.
Finally, the lack of comparable Federal data across many metrics makes it difficult to compare changes in Colorado to other jurisdictions which may have not legalized marijuana. In sum, then, the lack of pre-commercialization data, the decreasing social stigma, and challenges to law enforcement combine to make it difficult to translate these preliminary findings into definitive statements of outcomes.