LEGAL WEED: A LIFESAVER?
Schaub, Michael P.
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Marijuana legalization in Colorado has brought with it many changes, affecting economic, social, and criminal elements. According to law enforcement statistics, cannabis legalization has shown a consistent rise in opioid overdose rates throughout the United States; however, recent scholarly research indicates that states that have legalized marijuana experience a noticeable decrease in opioid overdose rate. This thesis uses case study analysis to answer the question: Does marijuana legalization save lives in Colorado? Through a market-based examination of Mexican drug trafficking organizations, conclusions are drawn on the impact of marijuana legalization vis-à-vis the illicit opioid trade. The author reviews the physical and mental effects of cannabis use on the body and conducts a comparison of Uruguay and Colorado legalization. Best practices from the repeal of Prohibition and Uruguay’s successes with legalization are extrapolated to recommend changes to Denver’s approach to marijuana. Colorado’s experience with legalization, when taken in total with suicides, traffic safety reports, opioid overdoses, and other indicators, is a mixed bag: there is no clear evidence that marijuana legalization saves lives at this point in the state’s history. More data and more accurate testing are needed before conclusions can be drawn.
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