CNN falsely reported on Friday, April 20, 2018, that Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper would consider banning recreational marijuana if experts conclude that the rising crime rate in the state is a result of legalization. The following story contains the original information that was first reported by CNN. Gov. Hickenlooper later called out CNN for taking something out of context and said that he supports marijuana still.
DENVER – Colorado legalized recreational marijuana in 2014 and Gov. Hickenlooper said that while it is unlikely if there was a connection between the rising crime rate and legal weed, he would not rule out re-criminalizing marijuana. Denver has seen a crime increase of 4 percent in 2016, and violent crime was up 9 percent in the city.
Commander of the Denver Police Department, James Henning, says that the data is misleading and does not indicate that marijuana is the culprit. He said that property crime is the source of the crime increase and said that it can't be credited to legal weed.
But because crime has been on the rise since roughly the same time marijuana was legalized in the state, opponents to legalization pounced on the data, which Henning says is inconclusive.
Some Blame Rise of Homelessness in Colorado on Legal Weed
Larimer County Sheriff Justin Smith said that legalization has not ended black market drug trafficking as promised by marijuana advocates, and he claims that the opposite has happened.
Smith cites the murder-rape of 23-year-old Helena Hoffmann by a transient and registered sex offender from Kentucky, Jeffrey Etheridge, as evidence. Etheridge said that he moved to Colorado to be near his girlfriend's brother, who had a job in a pot shop.
Henning disagrees that the homeless are responsible for the crime spike and says that more officers have been hired to tackle the illegal black market. Hickenlooper also disagrees that the influx of homeless people looking to find cannabis jobs is to blame for the crime increase and says that the data is hard to measure.
Studies show that marijuana could decrease crime by combating the opioid epidemic in the country. The Journal of the American Medical Association published two studies finding there were more than 2 million fewer daily prescriptions for opioid painkillers given to Medicare patients with prescriptions for marijuana.
Researchers also found that there was a 5.88 percent decrease in opioid prescriptions in legal medical marijuana states compared to non-legal medical marijuana states. At least 90 people die daily from opioid overdoses, and advocates say that legal marijuana could reduce black market opioid use.
Fentanyl painkiller prescriptions also decreased 8.5 percent in medical marijuana states, and another study conducted in 2014 found that 18 percent of patients were able to stop or significantly decrease their opioid painkiller use after being treated with marijuana.
The governor says that more data is needed to confirm the effects of legalization and that when the data is analyzed if there is a clear indication that marijuana legalization has hurt the community, it will be the end of legal weed in Colorado.
He added that in order to get concrete evidence of the effects of legal weed, money has to be spent and discussions need to be guided by facts and open minds.
Although Gov. Hickenlooper says that the state could re-criminalize the drug, it isn't likely given the amount of money legal weed brings the state. Colorado brought in more than $1.5 billion in legal marijuana revenue in 2017.
With Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer's recent announcement calling for an end to federal prohibition, as well as former House Speaker John Boehner's recent announcement that he has endorsed ending the federal marijuana prohibition and even joined the board of a cannabis company, it would seem that Mary Jane is safe in the state, and it may even be coming soon to a city near you.