After 6 months, debate on legal pot in Colorado burns strong
Denver, CO (KDVR) -- It's been nearly six full months since Colorado opened the door to recreational marijuana, and its impact depends upon who you ask.
A national marijuana advocacy group has released a study pointing to facts that demonstrate some of the positive aspects of legal marijuana, but opponents are citing some troubling facts of their own.
After six months of recreational marijuana many people haven't changed their opinions of it.
"On a personal level I'm not a fan of it. I wish we didn't have it," said LeeAnn Bernosky.
"I don't see a problem in it," said Mike Falkowski. "I actually think that alcohol is much worse."
Now, as the six month mark approaches, a marijuana advocacy group is trying to cut through the opinion with facts.
"This program is showing that we can improve public safety, revenue in the economy, and our individual civil liberties all at the same time," said Michael Elliott with the Marijuana Industry Group.
The Drug Policy Alliance, a marijuana advocacy group, released a study that found legal marijuana generated $10.8 million dollars in tax revenue for Colorado in four months. Despite worries about public safety, violent crime has also fallen 5.2 percent from this time last year.
Add in another report, which found that after 20 sting operations, no retailer has been cited for selling pot to anyone underage.
"What we're seeing is that so many of those predictions (about recreational pot) look like utter nonsense now," Elliott said.
But opponents of recreational marijuana say they have facts of their own.
"We've been keeping track of other things the past six months that are concerning for us," said Gina Carbone, with SMART Colorado.
Carbone points to numbers from poison control centers showing more kids being treated for accidentally ingesting marijuana, and two high profile cases in which edible overdoses were linked to a death and a murder.
"To have seen these very, very tragic deaths due to edibles, obviously, tells us that we still have a lot of work to do with the regulations," Carbone said.
"Everyone is acknowledging that the potency of edibles needs to probably be lowered so that people aren't accidentally over doing it," Elliott said.
Opponents say stoned driving and public intoxication are also up, but advocates argue that the numbers are thanks to increased enforcement, which is funded by all that tax revenue.