5:34 pm - Thursday December 14, 2017

Public Education on Marijuana Laws‏

On the eve of the first legal sales of recreational marijuana in the world, the Medical Marijuana Industry Group urged all Coloradans to know the law and follow it.


“It’s important for all Coloradans and those visiting our state to know what is allowed under Colorado’s new marijuana laws,” said Michael Elliott, executive director of MMIG, the state’s largest marijuana industry association.


“MMIG has joined with both state and local entities on various public education efforts. While it will be legal for adults 21 and over to purchase marijuana from a licensed marijuana business, we are pushing five major public education points,” Elliott said. “Those points are that it remains illegal to:

  • Give marijuana to minors;
  • Sell marijuana unless you are a licensed business;
  • Drive under the influence of marijuana;
  • Consume marijuana in public; or
  • Take marijuana out of state.”


“Colorado has a strictly regulated marijuana structure and it’s important that everyone – community members, business owners, customers, the general public, and elected officials to name a few – know the law,” Elliott said.


“Denver has a very good website – marijuanainfodenver.org – and I encourage everyone to visit the site and know the law. In addition, business owners will be handing out flyers and putting posters in their stores alerting customers to what the law says,” Elliott said.


“Colorado is rolling out the licensing of recreational marijuana businesses in a controlled manner and MMIG supports that approach. Our members are responsible business owners who strive to be good neighbors. As part of that, our members are hiring additional security staff and are encouraging neighbors to contact them directly if there are any issues,” Elliott said.


“We are also glad the Denver Police Department is stepping up patrols with the aim of helping to ensure the safety of businesses and customers on Jan. 1st,” Elliott said.  (See relevant Denver Post story here)


Click here for a link to Denver’s public education pamphlet.


This is Michael Elliott, Executive Director of the Medical Marijuana Industry Group, based in Denver, Colorado.  As we prepare for the first ever legal retail sales of marijuana to those 21 and up, I thought you might find the below information helpful as you consider how to cover this historic event.


Below, I have included links to data and studies which suggest marijuana reform leads to decreases in teen marijuana use, traffic fatalities, and crime, and increases in overall public health. 


There are five core sections to the below data: Teen marijuana use; traffic fatalities; crime; health; and public support.


I hope this is helpful.



  1. According to federal data compiled by the Center for Disease Control, fewer Colorado teens are using marijuana now that Colorado has regulated and licensed medical marijuana businesses.
    1. Source: Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (YRBSS), compiled by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
  2. Colorado sees largest decrease in teen marijuana use in US.
    1. From 2009 to 2011, the percentage of Colorado teens using marijuana dropped more than any other state in the country.  Click here.
  3. Fewer Colorado Teens Using Marijuana: Since Colorado allowed for the sale of medical marijuana through licensed and taxed businesses, Colorado’s teen marijuana usage rate decreased almost 3% (2009 to 2011), dropping below the pre-dispensary average, and below the national average.
    1. Colorado: Click here– Youth marijuana usage in Colorado went down 2.8% (24.8% to 22%) from 2009 to 2011.
    2. National: Click  here – Youth marijuana usage nationwide went up 2.3% (20.8% to 23.1%) from 2009 to 2011.
    3. National v. Colorado: Click  here – Youth usage in Colorado fell below the national average in 2011 (23.1% US v. 22.0% CO).
    4. Colorado’s current rate lower than the pre-dispensary rate: Click  here – Colorado’s current teen marijuana usage rate is below what it was in 2005, the time immediately before dispensaries.
  4. Availability of drugs in Colorado schools down:
    1. Colorado: Click  here – Availability of drugs on school grounds in Colorado went down 5% (22.7% to 17.2%) from 2009 to 2011.
    2. National: Click  here – Availability of drugs on school grounds went up nationally almost 3% (22.7% to 25.6%) from 2009 to 2011.
    3. National v. Colorado: Click  here – Availability of drugs  on school grounds nationwide is 8.4% higher than in Colorado (25.6% to 17.2%)
  5. Nationwide, MMJ Laws Lead to Reduced Teen Usage:
    1. Click here to see a new research paper with data showing that medical marijuana laws may be responsible for decreased teen marijuana usage.
    2. http://blogs.phoenixnewtimes.com/valleyfever/2013/01/teen_use_of_marijuana_decrease.php
  6. New Study: “eliminating punishments for possession for personal use is not associated with higher drug use”
    1. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23298650
  7.  Teen marijuana use hasn’t exploded amid boom in legalization support, drug survey find.  Click here

Traffic Safety

  1. New Study: Per Se laws do not improve public safety – click here
  2. New Study: Medical Marijuana laws reduce traffic fatalities an average of 9% due to decreases in drunk driving deaths – click here
  3. Colorado Department Of Transportation Data Shows Decreases in Traffic Fatalities in Years Since State Allowed Medical Marijuana Businesses – click here and here
  4. Why medical marijuana laws reduce traffic deaths
    1. http://healthland.time.com/2011/12/02/why-medical-marijuana-laws-reduce-traffic-deaths/print/


Crime down:

  1. Dispensaries not linked to neighborhood crime
    1. http://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2012/06/06/report-medical-marijuana-dispensaries-not-linked-to-neighborhood-crime_print.html
  2. Violent crime down in Colorado
    1. http://www.denverpost.com/breakingnews/ci_23583878/violent-crime-fell-3-4-percent-colorado-2012



  1. CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Sanjay Gupta Changes Mind, Supports Medical Marijuana
    1. http://www.cnn.com/2013/08/09/health/gupta-weed-reaction/index.html?hpt=hp_t3
  2. Federal Agency Announces Medical Use for Marijuana:
    1. http://washingtonindependent.com/106943/federalagencyproclaimsmedicaluseformarijuana
  3. New Study: Economists predict marijuana legalization will product ‘public health benefits.’
    1. http://reason.com/blog/2013/11/01/economists-predict-marijuana-legalizatio
  4. New Study: Alcohol more damaging to teen brain than marijuana
    1. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/12/21/teens-marijuana-brain-tissue-alcohol_n_2331779.html?view=print&comm_ref=false
  5. Legal marijuana reduces teen binge drinking
    1. http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2013/07/10/aussie-expert-legalize-marijuana-to-protect-teens-from-binge-drinking/
  6. New Study: States that legalized medical marijuana have seen on average a 5% decrease in suicides.
    1. http://coloradoindependent.com/113824/suicide-rates-fall-when-states-legalize-medical-marijuana-says-new-study
  7. New Data: Prescription Drug Overdoses Now Outnumber Traffic Fatalities
    1. http://articles.latimes.com/print/2011/sep/17/local/la-me-drugs-epidemic-20110918
  8. Occasional marijuana use does not appear to have long-term adverse effects on lung function, according to new research published in theJournal of the American Medical Association.
    1. http://abcnews.go.com/Health/occasional-pot-smoking-harm-lung-function-time-study/story?id=15331989#.UOcP5W871OwFinances
  9. Second hand marijuana smoke is hazy except for the most popular urban myth.
    1. http://www.krdo.com/news/second-hand-marijuana/-/417220/22663402/-/1363e65/-/index.html
  10. New Study: Marijuana Consumers more knowledgeable about the plants health effects than non-users
    1. http://www.thedailychronic.net/2013/25131/study-marijuana-consumers-more-knowledgeable-about-the-plants-health-effects-than-non-users/
  11. Cannabis compounds reduced cigarette consumption
    1. http://norml.org/news/2013/07/03/study-cannabis-compound-reduces-cigarette-consumption-in-tobacco-smokers
  12. Harvard study shows marijuana use doesn’t cause schizophrenia
    1. http://psychcentral.com/news/2013/12/10/harvard-marijuana-doesnt-cause-schizophrenia/63148.html


Public Support

  1. Attorney General Eric Holder is calling for major drug sentencing reforms,
    1. http://www.npr.org/2013/08/07/209253516/with-holder-in-the-lead-sentencing-reform-gains-momentum
    2. “The war on drugs is now 30, 40 years old,” Holder said. “There have been a lot of unintended consequences. There’s been a decimation of certain communities, in particular communities of color.”
    3. Some of the items are changes Holder can make on his own, such as directing U.S. attorneys not to prosecute certain kinds of low-level drug crimes, or spending money to send more defendants into treatment instead of prison. Almost half of the 219,000 people currently in federal prison are serving time on drug charges.
  2. Majority of American Parents Support Medical Marijuana
    1. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/07/17/parents-support-medical-marijuana_n_3611822.html
  3. 1000 Mayors Tell Feds, Leave Local Pot Laws Alone
    1. http://www.alternet.org/1000-mayors-tell-feds-leave-local-pot-laws-alone?akid=10638.23935.t-Kl4q&rd=1&src=newsletter861929&t=11&paging=off
  4. Can Marijuana save the Republican Party?
    1. http://www.theweedblog.com/can-marijuana-save-the-republican-party/
  5. More States considering Marijuana Reform
    1. http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-10-08/legal-marijuana-trend-spreads-as-more-states-weigh-votes.html
  6. Poll: Majority of democrats and independents support legalization
    1. http://reason.com/blog/2013/12/18/poll-majorities-of-democrats-and-indepe2
  7. Only Six Percent of Americans Think Marijuana Possession Should Be Punished With Jail Time
    1. http://reason.com/blog/2013/05/17/reason-rupe-majority-of-americans-suppor
  8. Former Mexican President Vicente Fox Urges Marijuana Legalization
    1. http://news.yahoo.com/former-mexican-president-fox-urges-marijuana-legalization-004257130.html




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