By Timothy L. Graves, Esq.
Since Colorado voters legalized marijuana, both medical and recreational, the prosecution rates for petty marijuana possession have dropped dramatically in county courts across the state. According to an article by John Ingold in The Denver Post, the monthly prosecution rate for petty marijuana possession has dropped 81 percent since 2012. While this drop in prosecution rate is not unexpected, it is dramatic.
But the change has effected more than just petty marijuana possession. According to The Denver Post, prosecution for possession of 12 or more ounces of marijuana has dropped 73 percent since 2012. Further, possession of fewer than five pounds a marijuana with the intent to distribute has also dropped by 70 percent.
The reasons for this dramatic drop are up for debate. Colorado Attorney General John Suthers claims that the drop in prosecution may be due to the police not wanting to trudge through the quagmire of the new marijuana laws. The American Civil Liberties Union claims that the drop in prosecution was caused by the new laws lessening the racially biased impact of marijuana law enforcement. Tom Raynes of the Colorado District Attorneys Council claims that the new laws make it harder for police to fully investigate a situation when they smell marijuana. Whatever the reason is, the results are undeniably staggering.
As the novelty of legal marijuana wears away, prosecution will likely continue to dwindle. However, with the advent of new drug DUI laws to deal with recreational marijuana, DUI/DWAI prosecution will likely increase. How all of this will affect the state, either for the better or worse, is still up in the air. One thing is for certain though, the entire nation is watching.