Supporters of progressive marijuana policies who thought opponents would quickly raise the white flag after limited cannabis sales became law in Colorado seriously underestimated their persistence.
The Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (RMHIDTA) is a case in point.
The organization, operated under the supervision of director Tom Gorman, continues to regularly issue reports that characterize the state's marijuana experiment as a disastrous misstep with the potential to tear society asunder — and its latest, on view below, is no exception.
Gorman has acknowledged that some of the data assembled by the RMHIDTA is opinion-based, meaning it may not pass muster in a scientific survey. But in his view, the studies allow folks "to look at trends over a period of time to see if this data supports other data."
"The Legalization of Marijuana in Colorado: The Impact," issued during the summer of 2013, pointed to the increasing number of Colorado pot seizures beyond the state lines. Part two, released in August 2014, argued that pot-related driving fatalities were up 100 percent in five years.
Now comes "The Legalization of Marijuana in Colorado: The Impact, Volume 3." The organization shorthands its major findings like so:
Marijuana Deals Near You
• Marijuana-impaired driving: Impaired driving data related to marijuana is on the increase.
• Colorado youth marijuana use: In 2013, Colorado’s average for youth (12 to 17 years old) considered “current” marijuana users was 11.16 percent, which was 56.08 percent higher than the national average and ranked number three in the nation.
• Colorado college-age marijuana use: In 2012, Colorado’s average for college-age individuals (18 to 25 years old) considered current marijuana users was 29.05 percent, which was 53.62 percent higher than the national average and ranked number two in the nation.
• Colorado emergency room: There has been a significant increase in marijuana-related emergency room visits and hospitalizations in the first six months of 2014.
• Diversion of Colorado marijuana: In 2014, there were 360 highway interdictions of Colorado marijuana destined for other states. In just one year, 2013 to 2014, there was a 25 percent increase in the number of interdiction seizures.
Illustrating these points are a slew of graphics. Here, for instance, is one that shows the number of driving-under-the-influence-of-drugs busts recorded in Aurora last year, with marijuana use predominating:
This one shows a rise in marijuana-related admissions to the Arapahoe House treatment center from 2013 to 2014:
Another graphic maintains that marijuana use among youth aged twelve to seventeen has been on the upswing since legalization:
And here's a depiction of increased school expulsions in Colorado for reasons related to drugs, as compared to alcohol:
Critics of the RMHIDTA argue that the organization's data isn't to be trusted given its agenda-driven bias — and Gorman has readily admitted that the group is steadfastly opposed to legalization.
But no matter what one thinks about the trustworthiness of the findings, the continuing reports indicate that many members of the law-enforcement community are a long way from accepting the changes in Colorado marijuana policy.
Here's the latest volume of "The Legalization of Marijuana in Colorado: The Impact," followed by the previous two.
We Believe Local Journalism is Critical to the Life of a City
Engaging with our readers is essential to Westword's mission. Make a financial contribution or sign up for a newsletter, and help us keep telling Denver's stories with no paywalls.