Source: HempBeachTv Article June 4 2014

Not so bad, actually: We’re now five months into Colorado’s marijuana legalization experiment, and pressure is building to see whether it’s a success story or a major flop. So far, there’s only limited evidence, but nothing pointing to the weed-fueled hell some critics warned of.

The money has been good: During the first three months of legalized marijuana sales, Colorado collected $12.6 million in licensing and fees, including $7.3 million in recreational taxes alone. Medical marijuana continues to outsell recreational weed, with $34 million in total sales in March (however, taxes on medical marijuana are very low). At this pace, Colorado is well on target to hit a $33 million spending plan that will fund new school nurses and public education on marijuana safety, as well as child drug use prevention and outreach.

But not everyone is happy: The New York Times wrote the scathingly-titled “After 5 Months of Sales, Colorado Sees the Downside of a Legal High,” leading with anecdotes around a man who purchased a bag of marijuana-laden Karma Kandy and then shot his wife. It’s heavy on the gloom and doom (complete with quotes from out-of-state sheriffs and drug warrior Kevin A. Sabet), but the only hard data it presents is that crime is still trending downward in Colorado…

Marijuana supporters note that violent crimes in Denver — where the bulk of Colorado’s pot retailers are — are down so far this year. The number of robberies from January through April fell by 4.8% from the same time in 2013, and assaults were down by 3.7%. Over all, crime in Denver is down by about 10%, though it is impossible to say whether changes to marijuana laws played any role in that decline.

…and claims of trafficking in Kansas appear to be overblown:

Few agree on how much legally purchased marijuana is being secreted out of Colorado. Michele Leonhart, the head of the Drug Enforcement Administration, told a Senate panel in April that officials in Kansas had tallied a 61% increase in seizures of marijuana that could be traced to Colorado. But according to the Kansas Highway Patrol, total marijuana seizures fell to 1,090 pounds from 2,790 pounds during the first four months of the year, a 61% decline.

It’s possible that legal marijuana will never be cheaper than the black market stuff, which might render the issue of diversion somewhat less critical. But as of yet, nothing solid indicates a major surge in interstate trafficking, and Colorado may have already been a source of marijuana shipments.

The New York Times quotes Colby, Kansas, police chief Ron Alexander (who oversees an interstate highway leaving Colorado) as experiencing a three-fold increase in the number of charges for the sale, distribution or possession of marijuana. But it’s not clear if the charges were minor or whether the increased number of arrests is due to higher scrutiny. Deuel County, Neb., sheriff Adam Hayward called it a “free-for-all” in his state after legalization, but the New York Times didn’t offer statistics. An article in the Los Angeles Times found no shortage of local authorities saying that Colorado has become a major source of drugs.

Other law enforcement officials told the New York Times nothing has changed: A March report in USA Today found no evidence that smuggling marijuana out of Colorado had become a major problem. A Wyoming state trooper said that they haven’t seen any problems since legalization. Officials in Utah, New Mexico and Nebraska told the publication the same thing. Meanwhile, criminal cases for marijuana were down across the board in Colorado in 2013.

In reality, things look pretty much the same as they did before in Colorado. And while it would certainly be premature to credit weed for Denver’s falling crime rate, the sky’s not falling, either. In fact, a recent study suggested that not only is there no evidence medical marijuana increases crime, in fact it’s associated with slightly lower rates of violent crime.

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