Marijuana Use in Colorado Up, Says New Survey

A recent federal survey shows that marijuana use in Colorado has increased.

The National Survey on Drug Use and Health, which is based on data collected in 2012 and 2013, is the first measure that shows the use of marijuana in Colorado after it was legalized in 2012.

The study highlights that one in every eight Colorado residents over 12 years old experienced using the drug in the past month. Rhode Island is the only state that topped Colorado when it comes to the percentage of residents using marijuana often.

The report averaged out data specific to individual states over a period of two years. The survey discovered that, in 2011 and 2012, about 10.4 percent of Colorado residents over 12 years old used marijuana in the past month of the survey. The percentage increased to 12.7 percent based on 2012 and 2013 data. According to the report, about 530,000 residents of the state use the drug at least once every month.

The national average of marijuana use in people over 12 years old is 7.4 percent, which means Colorado is four percent above the national average. As the data released are not from 2014, experts are unsure about the commercial sales of marijuana and their impact on the state.

"I don't think this tells us about the long-term impacts of legalization," said Mark Kleiman, a professor at the University of California (UC), Los Angeles, who studies and observes marijuana policies. "The fraction of people who are monthly users who are in fact daily users has gone way, way up."

Kleiman also pointed out that the number of patients who use medical marijuana also increased in Colorado over the same period.

John Hickenlooper, governor of Colorado, opposed legalizing marijuana in 2012, but since then, Hickenlooper's administration may have gone softer over the legalization of the drug in the state.

Prior to the legalization of marijuana in Colorado, opponents of the marijuana law believed that crime will increase and car accidents may surge following the legalization. However, the city of Denver, which has the most number of marijuana dispensaries, has witnessed a drop in crime rates. Serious car accidents are also near the historical low.

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