Colorado: Teen Marijuana Use, Traffic Fatalities Fall Post-Legalization

Colorado: Teen Marijuana Use, Traffic Fatalities Fall Post-LegalizationColorado: Teen Marijuana Use, Traffic Fatalities Fall Post-Legalization

Denver, CO: The percentage of high-school students consuming marijuana has fallen in the years since Colorado legalized the personal use of cannabis to adults.

State survey data released last week by the Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment found that fewer high-school students self-reported using cannabis in 2013 as compared to 2011. Colorado voters approved language in November 2011 permitting adults to legally grow and consume limited quantities of cannabis. The law change went into effect in 2012 although retail sales of cannabis to adults did not begin until January 1, 2014.

According to the survey, the percentage of high schoolers who reported consuming marijuana within the past 30 days fell from 22 percent in 2011 to 20 percent in 2013. High school students’ lifetime use of cannabis declined from 39 percent to 37 percent during the same two years.

Overall, Colorado teens’ use of marijuana has fallen steadily since the mid-1990s.

In addition, separate data assessing the prevalence of statewide traffic fatalities during the first seven-months of 2014 compared to the first seven-months of 2013 also indicates that roadway fatalities have fallen following the allowance of retail cannabis sales. According to The Washington Post: "[R]oadway fatalities this year [in Colorado] are down from last year, and down from the 13-year average. Of the seven months so far this year, five months saw a lower fatality figure this year than last, two months saw a slightly higher figure this year, and in one month the two figures were equal."

Commenting on the data, NORML Communications Director Erik Altieri said: "Colorado’s cannabis regulations strike a proper balance between increased civil liberties and public safety. These common sense regulations, coupled with the encouragement of social responsibility, are certainly preferably to cannabis prohibition and criminalization."

For more information, please contact Allen St. Pierre, NORML Executive Director, or Erik Altieri, NORML Communications Director, at (202) 483-5500.