Colorado Publishes New Report Examining Health Effects of Legalized Marijuana
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Commentary

Colorado Publishes New Report Examining Health Effects of Legalized Marijuana

Study finds virtually none of the public health fears about legalizing marijuana have materialized in the state.

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment has issued a new report, Monitoring Health Concerns Related to Marijuana in Colorado: 2018.  Among its notable findings from multiple data sources are:

  • No increase in driving while high: “In 2017, 3.0 percent of adults in Colorado reported driving a vehicle within a few hours after using marijuana. There was no statistical change from 2014 to 2017.”
  • No increase in juvenile use: “In 2017, HKCS estimated 19.4 percent of Colorado high school students and 5.2 percent of middle school students reported using marijuana in the past 30 days. This is not statistically different from 2015…”

The report also highlights that more homes with children have marijuana products in the house, but finds no evidence of problems arising from that and that the vast majority keep it locked away from kids.

The report also flags some broad trends that the authors think need to be watched as some measure of adult use of marijuana have increased, but none of their data shows any actual health problems.

Most important, their data busts all manner of myths that legalization will cause an exploding of problem marijuana use.  They summarize with the following “encouraging trends”:

  • “Since the 2016 report, we have not identified any new disparities in adult marijuana use by age, gender, race, ethnicity or sexual orientation since legalization.”
  • “Daily or near daily marijuana use among adults is much lower than binge drinking and daily or near daily tobacco use”
  • “For adolescents, estimated prevalence of past 30 day marijuana use and frequencies of marijuana use have not changed since legalization.”
  • “Past 30 day marijuana use among Colorado adolescents is similar to the national average.”
  • “Among adolescents, past 30 day marijuana use continues to be lower than past 30 day alcohol use and electronic vapor products with nicotine use.”
  • “The majority of homes in Colorado with children do not have marijuana present or being used inside the home. Among homes that do have marijuana present, the majority of homes are storing marijuana safely.”

In other words, virtually none of the public health fears about legalizing marijuana have materialized in Colorado.

Adrian Moore

Adrian Moore, Ph.D., is vice president of policy at Reason Foundation, a non-profit think tank advancing free minds and free markets.