The PJ Tatler

Poll: Legalizing Pot Hurt Colorado's Image

Quinnipiac has released a new poll revealing that Colorado voters’ decision to legalize marijuana hurts the state’s image with a majority of American voters.

The poll finds that 51% of Americans say the legalization has hurt Colorado, compared to 38% who say it hasn’t.

There are wide differences among parties and among age groups, the independent Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh-pe-ack) University poll finds. Legalization is bad for the state’s image, Republicans say 73 – 18 percent and independent voters say 56 – 36 percent. It’s good for the state’s image, Democrats say 57 – 30 percent.

Voters 18 to 29 years old say 57 – 41 percent it’s good for the state’s image while voters over 65 years old say 67 – 21 percent it’s bad for the state’s image.

Only 10 percent of Colorado voters say they’ve tried marijuana since it became legal January 1, but 51 percent of voters say they’ve tried marijuana at some point. Among voters over 65 years old, 26 percent say they’ve tried marijuana at some point, rising to 57 to 59 percent among voters in younger age groups.

Voters oppose 81 – 14 percent changing the law to allow people to grow more than 12 marijuana plants in their home, but say 73 – 26 percent that it wouldn’t bother them if a neighbor grows marijuana at home. Even voters over 65 say 56 – 41 percent it wouldn’t bother them.

Statistics show that fatal marijuana-related car accidents have risen as more states have decriminalized it.

Researchers at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health assessed National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) data from 1999 to 2010 and found that 24.8 percent of 23,591 drivers who were killed within one hour of a crash were on drugs. Of them, 39.7 percent had alcohol in their systems.

During this 10-year period, the number of non-alcohol drug-related accidents rose from 16.6 percent to 28.3 percent—for marijuana alone, it went up from 4.2 percent to 12.2 percent.

The alcohol-related crashes involved a higher percentage of men than women, but the rise in marijuana-related crashes was reported for both sexes and in all age groups.

The data only include fatal car crashes in six states: California, Hawaii, Illinois, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and West Virginia.

Colorado schools also report seeing pot-related incidents on a sharp rise, according to the Denver Post.

There are no hard numbers yet because school disciplinary statistics do not isolate marijuana from general drug violations. But school resource officers, counselors, nurses, staff and officials with Colorado school safety and disciplinary programs are anecdotally reporting an increase in marijuana-related incidents in middle and high schools.

“We have seen a sharp rise in drug-related disciplinary actions which, anecdotally, from credible sources, is being attributed to the changing social norms surrounding marijuana,” said Janelle Krueger. Krueger is the program manager for Expelled and At-Risk Student Services for the Colorado Department of Education and also a longtime adviser to the Colorado Association of School Resource Officers.

Krueger said school officials believe the jump is linked to the message that legalization (even though it is still prohibited for anyone under 21) is sending to kids: that marijuana is a medicine and a safe and accepted recreational activity. It is also believed to be more available.