Thursday, 22 October 2015

Colorado Since Cannabis Legalization

This image was recently posted on the Reefer Revolution Facebook page.
It received some backlash from some prohibitionists calling to explain the difference between causation and correlation (like their arguments do!) Reefer Revolution responded brilliantly, justifying and backing up each of their claims. Here's what they said:
It should be noted that the main message in this post is that the world hasn’t ended since Amendment 64 was passed in Colorado! The first image sates: ‘Since Colorado legalized cannabis, they have blown away the propaganda’. This provides the context for the rest of the statements. Those questioning correlation and causation should look to the correlation between this posts statements and prohibitionist arguments if they want to see the causation for each being included. The image demonstrates some of the positives that have come from legalization, while dismissing some of the outdated ‘doomsday’ arguments that are still too often perpetuated by prohibitionists. It is simple, yet absolutely sensationalist, pro-legalization propaganda in the ‘war on drugs’. It is a justified attack on prohibitionist rhetoric in general, an attack on a movement that has deprived people of beneficial medicine and criminalised innocent people who enjoy relaxing with cannabis, it’s a psychological bullet aimed at changing opinions and attitudes! Despite this, each statement can be argued and ratified with credible sources; can the same always be said of the oppressors’ arguments in this ‘war’?

“Truth will ultimately prevail where there is pains taken to bring it to light.”

Claim 1 – Less Children Use Pot.
If you follow the debate closely you will have probably come across prohibitionists worried of a cannabis epidemic if laws are relaxed, kids everywhere toking up and becoming worthless nobodies, leaching off the hard working tax payer their entire lives. That just isn’t what has happened though, and the argument completely overlooks the fact that drug dealers don’t ask for ID, but licensed and regulated shops do.

“According to the Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment, marijuana use among Colorado teens has gone down slightly since the state legalized recreational cannabis use in 2012.”

In this article they interestingly record the stats accurately yet for some reason call in an ‘expert’ for really poor analysis. Apparently a 20% drop in high school pot use in 4 years between 2009 and 2013 in Colorado (from 25% down to 20%), despite the national average rising, isn’t significant. I would beg to differ.

“In the 2013 Healthy Kids Colorado survey, 37 percent of high school students reported that they had ever tried marijuana, down from 39 percent in 2011. The percentage who reported using marijuana in the previous month (a.k.a. "current" use) also declined, from 22 percent in 2011 to 20 percent in 2013.”
Claim 2 – Traffic fatalities are at all-time lows.
The Colorado Department of Transportation published a document showing a steady decrease in traffic fatalities over the last 12 years. This is fact. The statement in the image doesn’t attribute this tolegalizing cannabis. It’s included to demonstrate this steady fall DESPITE steady relaxation of cannabis laws in Colorado over the last 15 years since Amendment 20 was passed. This is in stark contrast to the scare tactics still perpetuated by prohibitionists that relaxing pot laws would result in drug drivers everywhere killing everyone.
It is a general tendency of pro-legalization advocates to compare cannabis and alcohol to highlight hypocrisy in cannabis prohibition. I’m not above this. While I’m sure there aren’t many that will condone drink driving, nobody seems to be calling to ban alcohol because of the potential dangers of drunk drivers, despite drunk drivers being considerably worse than stoned drivers.
“Last month, researchers from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported that drivers who use marijuana are significantly less likely to crash than drunk drivers. That much may seem obvious, but here’s the kicker: drivers with THC in their systems (adjusted for age, gender, race, and alcohol use) were no more likely to crash than those who had not used drugs or alcohol before getting behind the wheel.”

This is not condoning driving while baked, merely highlighting the cognitive dissonance apparent in the oppressors argument.
Claim 3 – Fewer people take dangerous meds.
Ok so this is perhaps ambiguous, particularly to those who do not follow the debate closely, but arguable in many contexts nonetheless. For the sake of this argument let’s take opioids as they are the biggest killer of all the prescription drugs, up to 40%!

“States with medical cannabis laws had a 24.8% lower mean annual opioid overdose mortality rate (95% CI, −37.5% to −9.5%; P = .003) compared with states without medical cannabis laws”
Claim 4 – Lazy? Nope. Record setting job growth.
Similar to the myth purported that legalizing cannabis would mean more kids smoking pot, it is often said that cannabis legalization would signal the beginning of the end, a rapid decline of society intoa baked zombies apocalypse incapable of being productive members of the community. The statement in no insinuates cannabis is solely responsible for record setting job growth; it just points out that this record setting growth has happened DESPITE legalizing cannabis. Fact.
“Colorado employers added more jobs in June than they have in any single month since official counts began back in 1939.”
And let’s not forget the role cannabis has played not just in that job growth, but in the economic growth of Colorado in general. Labelled the ‘green-rush’ it’s set to rapidly become a billion dollar industry, has created more than 16,000 fairly well paid jobs ($15+ph) and generated more than $100 billion to date in tax revenues which have been actively and directly ploughed into schools. And this doesn’t include the other economic benefits such as tax on the employees earnings, benefits to secondary industries, inter alia.
Claim 5 – Violent Crime Dropped
Between 2000 (when cannabis laws first started to be relaxed) and 2013 (the most recent data), violent crime rate averages at 346.79 per 100,000 people. In the 14 years previous to that (1986-1999) it averages 471.59 per 100,000 people. This is a staggering fall of 26.5%, hardly insignificant, and CERTAINLY NOT proof of reefer madness. Feel free to crunch the numbers yourself.
Claim 6 – More tax money than alcohol
Ah, a nice easy one to end with. Colorado raked in nearly $70 million from cannabis taxes in the fiscal year ending June 30th 2015. Alcohol trickled in a mere $42 million. Fact.
They concluded by addressing some issues raised in other comments, ending with a succinct stating demonstrating the moral corruption in letting cannabis remain illegal.

"To address concerns about the lack of negatives of legalization included in the image such as the housing crisis, I would point out that it’s the opposition’s job to highlight the bad things, but that doesn’t mean we can’t discuss them here! I will quote someone else who commented, because to be blunt (no pun intended), I don’t think I can put it better myself. “We need to remember that the results of these types of changes in our society will initially cause some upheavals in how we function as a society. This is a major change and is affecting almost every aspect of our culture as we know it. How do we address this regarding the workplace, insurances, laws...we have a lot of wrinkles to work out, but we need patience and diligence. It takes time for change to level itself.” The only thing I would add to that is just like cannabis legalization isn’t the sole reason for record job growth or decreased driving fatalities, neither is it the sole reason for a mass influx of people. A booming economy will do that, take a look at EU migration since freedom of movement came around in the region.
Locking people in a cage for choosing to relax with cannabis recreationally is immoral. Locking people in a cage for using cannabis as a medicine is criminal. Period."

Bravo Reefer Revolution, bravo!


  1. And despite all of these positive things Colorado is experiencing... it remains illegal most of the nation.

    I mean what more proof do we need? I suppose the prison industrial complex has too much sway. And the drug barons, and law enforcement, and all the other massive entities that stand to profit from the prohibition of marijuana.


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