Status Report:
Marijuana Legalization in
Colorado After One Year of
Retail Sales and Two Years of
Since the first retail marijuana stores opened
Tax Revenue
on January 1st, 2014, the state of Colorado
Data released by the state Department of
has benefitted from a decrease in crime rates,
Revenue reveal that tax revenue from retail
a decrease in traffic fatalities, an increase in
marijuana sales amounted to $40.9 million
tax revenue and economic output from retail
between January 2014 and October 2014, not
marijuana sales, and an increase in jobs.
including revenue from medical marijuana and
licenses and fees.ii
Arrests and Judicial Savings
Of the marijuana tax revenue already collected,
According to data from the Colorado Court
the Colorado joint budget committee set aside
System, marijuana possession arrests have
$2.5 million to increase the number of health
dropped 84% since 2010. In 2010, 9,011 people
professionals in Colorado public schools.iii In
were arrested for marijuana possession. Using
November 2014, the state awarded the first
the same data we are projecting 1,464
$975,000 in grants to Colorado schools to be
possession arrests for 2014. Given that arrests
used to hire health professionals.iv The funds
such as these cost roughly $300 to adjudicate, it
help fill a critical gap in Colorado school districts,
is reasonable to infer that the state is saving
which suffer from a shortage of school health
millions in adjudicatory costs for possession
workers due to 2011 budget cuts.v Many of the
cases alone in 2014 compared to 2010. Over the
newly hired health workers, including nurses and
same period, arrests for cultivating and
social workers, will focus on mental health
distributing marijuana have also dropped by more
support and on programs to educate students
than 90%.
about drug
Decrease in Crime Rates
Decrease in Traffic Fatalities
According to data released by the city of Denver,
Traffic fatalities went down in 2014, according to
violent crime and property crime in Denver
data released by the Colorado Department of
decreased in 2014.i Violent crime in Denver went
Transportation,vii challenging claims that the
down by 2.2% in the first 11 months of 2014,
legalization of marijuana would lead to an
compared with the first 11 months of 2013. In the
increase in traffic fatalities.
same period, burglaries in Denver decreased by
9.5% and overall property crime decreased by
In the first 11 months of 2014, the state had 436
traffic fatalities, a 3% drop from the 449 fatalities
in the first 11 months of 2013. The decline in
fatalities in 2014 marks a continuation of a 12-
year long downward trend in traffic fatalities in the
state of Colorado.viii
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Economic Benefits
Colorado has the fastest growing economy in the
United States,ix and Colorado’s unemployment
rate is at a six-year low.x
According to the Department of Revenue, 16,000
people were licensed to work in the marijuana
industry as of December 31, 2014,xi though not
all those with licenses may be actively working in
the industry.
Jack Strauss, an economist at the University of
Denver, assessed the economic impact of two
dispensaries in Denver, Evergreen Apothecary
and Colorado Harvest chillums company.xii
two dispensaries receive an average wage of $17
per hour. Strauss found that the economic impact
of the two dispensaries amounted to 280 jobs
and $30 million in total economic output between
January 1, 2014 and June 30, 2014, and that the
two dispensaries contribute 10 times the tax
revenue of either a typical restaurant or retail
Youth Prevention Efforts
The state has allocated more than $8 million in
retail marijuana tax revenue for youth prevention
xiEmail communication from Natriece Bryant, Communications
and education, mental health and community-
Specialist, Colorado Department of Revenue, Executive
based developmental programs.xiii In addition to
Director’s Office, January 5, 2014.
the $2.5 million allocated to fund health workers
in Colorado schools, $2 million of marijuana tax
revenue has been allocated to help fund
community-based youth services programs that
offer mentoring and focus on drug prevention and
school retention, and over $4.3 million will fund
school-based outreach programs for students
using marijuana.
Drug Policy Alliance | 131 West 33rd Street, 15th Floor, New York, NY 10001
2 | 212.613.8020 voice |
212.613.8021 fax