There sure is a lot to wade through in a recently released report from the Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area, a drug-prohibition enforcement program run by the U.S. office of National Drug Control Policy. The program, which is focuses on Colorado, Utah, Wyoming and Montana, published a 94-page report entitled "The Legalization of Marijuana in Colorado: The Impact, Volume 5." It has published the report each year since marijuana retail sales were legalized in Colorado.
Here are some of the findings:
• Since recreational marijuana was legalized, marijuana related traffic deaths increased 151 percent while all Colorado traffic deaths increased 35 percent;
• In that same time, traffic deaths involving drivers who tested positive for marijuana more than doubled from 55 in 2013 to 138 people killed in 2017, which equates to one person killed every 2.5 days compared to one person killed every 6.5 days;
• The percentage of all Colorado traffic deaths that were marijuana related increased from 11.43 percent in 2013 to 21.3 percent in 2017;
• Colorado past month marijuana use shows a 45 percent increase in comparing a three-year average prior to recreational marijuana being legalized to the three years after legalization;
• Colorado's past month marijuana use for ages 12 and older is ranked third in the nation and is 85 percent higher than the national average;
• The yearly rate of emergency department visits related to marijuana increased 52 percent after the legalization of recreational marijuana (2012 compared to 2016);
• The yearly rate of marijuana-related hospitalizations increased 148 percent after the legalization of recreational marijuana (2012 compared to 2016);
• Marijuana only exposures more that tripled in the five-year average (2013-2017) since Colorado legalized recreational marijuana compared to the five-year average (2008-2012) prior to legalization;
• RMHIDTA Colorado Task Forces conducted 144 investigations of black market marijuana in Colorado in 2017 resulting in 239 felony arrests, 7.3 tons of marijuana seized, 43,949 plants seized and 24 different states the marijuana was destined for;
• The number of highway seizures increased 39 percent from 242 seizures from 2009-2012 to 336 seizures from 2013-2017;
• Seizures of Colorado marijuana in the U.S. mail system increased 1.42 percent from an average of 52 parcels (2009-2012) to an average of 594 parcels (2013-2017);
• Marijuana tax revenue represented approximately 0.9 of 1 percent of Colorado's 2017 budget;
• Violent crime increased 18.6 percent and property crime increased 8.3 percent in Colorado since 2013; and,
• 65 percent of local jurisdictions in Colorado have banned medical and recreational marijuana businesses.
There are so many more stats and findings in this report, including 69 percent of marijuana users admitted to driving high in the last year, and marked increases in THC potency in all products progressively each year since 2013.
Here's one more to leave you with: As of June 2017, there were 491 retail marijuana stores in Colorado compared to 392 Starbucks and 208 McDonald's.
Looks like Colorado's getting more white stuff than last year, at least so far this season. According to the SNOTEL watershed reports through Nov. 27, the Gunnison River Basin has received 92 percent of normal snowpack and has received 182 percent more than prior year to this point.
In the northeast portion of the state, the South Platte River Basin has received 158 percent of normal snowpack, and is 168 percent ahead of prior year.
in the southeast portion, the Arkansas River Basin has received 150 percent of normal snowpack, and is ahead of prior year by 231 percent.
There is only one conclusion to draw from all of this. Last year I used my snowblower once all winter. This year I'm certain to have that bad boy out several more times.
Alan Todd is co-publisher of the Ouray County Plaindealer. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.