A year ago, Colorado voted to end marijuana prohibition and legalize recreational marijuana use. During the last year, it became legal for adults over the age of 21 to personally use, possess, and even cultivate small amounts of pot for recreational use.
Over the last year, state lawmakers have worked tirelessly to regulate and tax the sales of marijuana and establish the framework of the new recreational marijuana market. Since no other state has ever legalized marijuana before, Colorado and Washington have been charged with the enormous task of regulating this new emerging market and ensuring that it complies with federal guidelines.
Since the legalization of marijuana last year, the Colorado Center on Law and Policy estimates that the state has saved between $12 million and $40 million simply by removing the criminal penalties associated with marijuana use. In the ten years prior to legalization, Colorado had averaged over 10,000 arrests and citations per year for marijuana use.
This means that 10,000 young adults have avoided costly and damaging drug charges. They have avoided jail time and the collateral consequences that come with having a criminal record. If marijuana use is ever decriminalized across the country, this would translate to 750,000 fewer arrests each year.