The federally funded Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area is nothing if not predictable.
The organization has spent recent years on a jihad against marijuana, regularly rolling out reports suggesting that legalization is rapidly destroying the fabric of society in Colorado by way of statistics that critics have long seen as scientifically suspect and manipulated to achieve a political agenda.
Moreover, the release of RMHIDTA information tends to be timed for maximum impact.
Note that the group previewed "The Legalization of Marijuana in Colorado: The Impact, Volume 3" with a preliminary document shared in the days leading up to 4/20 this year.
And now, the complete report arrives just in time for today's pot-tax holiday — the one day of the year when big bucks won't be rolling into Colorado's coffers as a result of cannabis sales.
After each RMHIDTA data dump, local news agencies dutifully contact Marijuana Policy Project spokesman and Amendment 64 proponent Mason Tvert to get his take on the latest negative information. We'll save him the trouble this time by sharing a quote he gave us on the topic in 2012: ""These agencies are desperate to have the marijuana trade completely underground so that they can keep making arrests and seizing assets. They are motivated by a desire to shut down regulated shops. They cannot even accept that by regulating the cultivation and sale of medical marijuana, we are actually moving toward the elimination of underground sales, not the expansion of it."
Here's the other side of the coin — a photo-illustrated summary of the report's most damning stats, followed by the complete document (it's more than 100 pages longer than April's preview) and a 7News piece featuring RMHIDTA analyst Kevin Wong and some fresh Tvert castigation.
Section 1 – Impaired Driving:
• In 2014, when retail marijuana businesses began operating, there was a 32 percent increase in marijuana-related traffic deaths in just one year from 2013.
• Colorado marijuana-related traffic deaths increased 92 percent from 2010 – 2014. During the same time period all traffic deaths only increased 8 percent.
• Marijuana-related traffic deaths were approximately 20 percent of all traffic deaths in 2014 compared to half that (10 percent) just five years ago.
• In 2014, when retail marijuana businesses began operating, toxicology reports with positive marijuana results of active THC results for primarily driving under the influence have increased 45 percent in just one year.
Section 2 – Youth Marijuana Use:
• In 2013, 11.16 percent of Colorado youth ages 12 to 17 years old were considered current marijuana users compared to 7.15 percent nationally. Colorado ranked 3rd in the nation and was 56 percent higher than the national average.
• Drug-related suspensions/expulsions increased 40 percent from school years 2008/2009 to 2013/2014. The vast majority were for marijuana violations.
• There was a 20 percent increase in the percent of 12 to 17 year old probationers testing positive for marijuana since marijuana was legalized for recreational purposes.
• A 2015 survey of school resource officers and school counselors revealed similar results about increased school marijuana issues since the legalization of recreational marijuana.
Section 3 – Adult Marijuana Use:
• In 2013, 29 percent of college age students (ages 18 to 25 years old) were considered current marijuana users compared to 18.91 percent nationally. Colorado, ranked 2nd in the nation, was 54 percent higher than the national average.
• In 2013, 10.13 percent of adults ages 26 years old and over were considered current marijuana users compared to 5.45 percent nationally. Colorado, ranked 5th in the nation, was 86 percent higher than the national average.
• Probationers age 18 to 25 and 26+ years old testing positive for marijuana increased 49 and 87 percent respectively since marijuana was legalized in 2013.
Section 4 – Emergency Room Marijuana and Hospital Marijuana-Related Admissions:
• In 2014, when retail marijuana businesses began operating, there was a 29 percent increase in the number of marijuana-related emergency room visits in only one year.
• In 2014, when retail marijuana businesses began operating, there was a 38 percent increase in the number of marijuana-related hospitalizations in only one year.
• In the three years after medical marijuana was commercialized, compared to the three years prior, there was a 46 percent increase in hospitalizations related to marijuana.
• Children’s Hospital Colorado reported 2 marijuana ingestions among children under 12 in 2009 compared to 16 in 2014.
Section 5 – Marijuana-Related Exposure:
• In 2014, when retail marijuana businesses began operating, marijuana-only related exposures increased 72 percent in only one year.
• In the years medical marijuana was commercialized (2009 – 2012), marijuana-related exposures averaged a 42 percent increase from pre-commercialization years (2006 – 2008) average.
• During the years 2013 – 2014, the average number of all age exposures was 175 per year. Exposures have doubled since marijuana was legalized in Colorado.
• Young children (ages 0 to 5) marijuana-related exposures in Colorado:
• During the years 2013 – 2014, the average number of children exposed was 31 per year. This is a 138 percent increase from the medical marijuana commercialization years (2009 – 2012) average which was a 225 percent increase from pre-commercialization years (2006 – 2008).
Section 6 – Treatment:
• Over the last ten years, the top three drugs involved in treatment admissions, in descending order, were alcohol (average 12,943), marijuana (average 6,491) and methamphetamine (average 5,044).
• Marijuana treatment data from Colorado in years 2005 – 2014 does not appear to demonstrate a definite trend. Colorado averages approximately 6,500 treatment admissions annual for marijuana abuse.
Section 7 – Diversion of Colorado Marijuana:
• During 2009 – 2012, when medical marijuana was commercialized, the yearly average number interdiction seizures of Colorado marijuana increased 365 percent from 52 to 242 per year.
• During 2013 – 2014, when recreational marijuana was legalized, the yearly average interdiction seizures of Colorado marijuana increased another 34 percent from 242 to 324.
• The average pounds of Colorado marijuana seized, destined for 36 other states, increased 33 percent from 2005 – 2008 compared to 2009 – 2014.
Section 8 – Diversion by Parcel:
• U.S. mail parcel interceptions of Colorado marijuana, destined for 38 other states, increased 2,033 percent from 2010 – 2014.
• Pounds of Colorado marijuana seized in the U.S. mail, destined for 38 other states, increased 722 percent from 2010 – 2014.
• From 2006 – 2008, compared to 2013 – 2014, the average number of seized parcels containing Colorado marijuana, that were destined outside the United States, increased over 7,750 percent and pounds of marijuana seized in those parcels increased over 1,079 percent.
Section 9 – THC Extraction Labs:
• In 2013, there were 12 THC extraction lab explosions compared to 32 in 2014.
• In 2013, there were 18 injuries from THC extraction lab explosions compared to 30 in 2014.
Section 10 – Related Data:
• Overall, crime in Denver increased 12.3 percent from 2012 to 2014.
• Colorado annual tax revenue from the sale of recreational marijuana was 52.5 million (CY2014) or about 0.7 percent of total general fund revenue (FY2015).
• The majority of cities and counties in Colorado have banned recreational marijuana businesses.
• National THC potency has risen from an average of 3.96 percent in 1995 to an average of 12.55 percent in 2013. The average potency in Colorado was 17.1 percent.
• Homelessness increased with the appeal of legal marijuana being a factor.
• Denver has more licensed medical marijuana centers (198) than pharmacies (117).