There’s no question that when Colorado legalized marijuana use that it would reduce the amount of drug charges within the state. Possession, distribution, and cultivation would all have legalized options, but no one really knew that the drop in total charges brought would be so dramatic.
Colorado has seen a 95% drop in marijuana related criminal activity in just 1 year after legalizing its use, as reported by The Huffington Post.
With the exception of distribution, to say that full legalization is the only cause of the reduction in charges would be unfair. The largest drop occurred between 2011-2012 when Colorado first looked at making medical marijuana legal. In that time span, possession charges dropped from 30,000 per year to fewer than 10,000 per year. Distribution saw a brief increase before taking a similar decrease, while cultivation charges have been dropping consistently since 2010.
There were only 23 marijuana distribution charges in all of 2014. That’s a 99% drop from 2010 numbers.
There is still a large racial disparity still in the marijuana charges that are filed. African-Americans make up 4% of Colorado’s population, but account for 9% of total arrests.
The improvements are still good to see. The war on drugs in Colorado is just about over. People aren’t becoming prisoners because of a small amount of pot. Hopefully the rest of the world is watching because Colorado has proven that these new marijuana laws make sense.