The Effects of Legalizing Marijuana in Colorado

Written by Nicole LaNeve

& Medically Reviewed by Jenni Jacobsen, LSW

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Last Updated - 04/05/2023

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Updated 04/05/2023

 The Effects of Legalizing Marijuana in Colorado

Colorado marijuana legalization has set an example for the rest of the country, demonstrating how legalizing this drug affects drug use, criminal activity, and economics both positively and negatively. The state attempted to legalize marijuana in 2006, but at that time, a ballot pushing for legalization was defeated. Fast forward to 2012 and Amendment 64 was approved, with 55.32% voting for the amendment and 44.64% voting against the amendment. The amendment allows Colorado residents aged 21 and over to possess and use limited quantities of marijuana and provides for the regulation of the marijuana industry as well as the collection of taxes from marijuana sales.

Given that the amendment was approved in 2012, there has been plenty of time to assess the effects of the legalization of marijuana in Colorado. While there have been some benefits to Colorado marijuana legalization, there have also been negative consequences. Get the full story, backed by data and expert review, below.

The Pros of Marijuana Legalization

While opponents of marijuana legalization argue that laws allowing recreational marijuana use are entirely harmful, it is important to recognize that there have been some pros of Colorado marijuana legalization. Consider, for example, the fact that each year, Amendment 64 requires that the first $40 million of excise taxes collected from retail marijuana must be given to the Public School Capital Construction Assistance Fund, which provides money for projects at Colorado schools.

There are also other positive impacts of the Colorado legalization to consider.

The Cons

While there are benefits of Colorado marijuana legalization, especially in terms of the economic impact and reduced burden on the criminal justice system, the effects of legalizing weed in Colorado are not all positive. With legalization comes the potential for risks to children, as well as increased drug use among some groups.

The Pros and Cons of Legalized Marijuana

As is the case with most policy changes, Colorado’s marijuana legalization has come with both pros and cons. While legalization benefits Colorado’s economy and reduces the burden placed upon the criminal justice system, it may also increase marijuana use and addiction, especially among young adults. Children may also face serious consequences if they accidentally ingest marijuana edibles.

Not everyone who uses recreational marijuana will develop an addiction, but the reality is that marijuana can become problematic for some people. If you find that you are unable to stop using marijuana despite serious consequences, you may be in need of treatment for a marijuana use disorder. For those seeking marijuana addiction treatment in Colorado, The Recovery Village at Palmer Lake is here to help. We offer a range of services, including medical detox, inpatient rehab, partial hospitalization and outpatient programming, and aftercare services. Contact us today to discuss your needs.


Ballotpedia. “Colorado Marijuana Legalization Initiati[…] Amendment 64 (2012).” Accessed July 3, 2021.

Chihuri, Stanford, & Guohua, Li. “State Marijuana Laws and Opioid Overdose Mortality.” Injury Epidemiology, 2019. Accessed July 3, 2021. “Amendment 64 Implementation.” Accessed July 3, 2021.

Colorado Department of Education. “Capital Construction.” June 3, 2021. Accessed July 3, 2021.

Colorado Department of Revenue. “Marijuana Sales Reports.” Accessed July 3, 2021.

Dills, Angela, Goffard, Sieste, & Miron, Jeffrey. “The Effect of State Marijuana Legalizations: 2021 Update.” Cato Institute, February 2, 2021. Accessed July 3, 2021.

Hoban, Robert. “The Success of Colorado’s Marijuana Tax Dollars.” 2021, May 23. Accessed July 3, 2021.

Jorgensen, Cody. “How Marijuana Legalization Would Benefit[…]inal Justice System.”  Boise State University, January 13, 2020. Accessed July 3, 2021.

Kosa, Katherine M., Giombi, Kristen C., Rains, Caroline B., & Cates, Sheryl C. “Consumer use and understanding of labeli[…]rado and Washington.”  International Journal of Drug Policy, May 2017. Accessed July 3, 2021.

Kropp Lopez, Amalie K., et al. “Prescription Opioid Distribution after t[…]rijuana in Colorado.” International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, May 7, 2020. Accessed July 3, 2021.

Mennis, Jeremy. “Trends in Adolescent Treatment Admission[…]States, 2008–2017.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, November 19, 2020. Accessed July 3, 2021.

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. “Behavioral Health Barometer Colorado, Volume 6.”  2020. Accessed July 3, 2021.

Zvonarev, Valeriy, Fatuki, Tolulope, & Tregubenko, Polina. “The Public Health Concerns of 


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