Why has Colorado’s Crime Rate Increased?

Even as Coloradans continue to support their decision to legalize recreational marijuana use and, in some localities, vote to expand such use, there is still uncertainty that accompanies the legal recreational marijuana market. One main concern is the increase in crime that some individuals attribute to the legalization of recreational marijuana. Recently, Colorado has experienced an alarming increase in its crime rate. In fact, a recent article in The Denver Post notes that Colorado’s 2016 crime rate reflected an increase that was 11 times more than the national average increase of 0.3% in the nation’s 30 largest cities. Whether or not this increase is tied to the legalization of recreational marijuana has both proponents and opponents of recreational marijuana use digging deeper into the details surrounding it.

By the Numbers

One of the most alarming trends that can be seen in Colorado’s overall crime increase is the number of homicides across the state. According to the article, nearly one in three homicides in Colorado in 2016 were committed in Denver and were responsible for a 9.9% increase in homicides last year over 2015. That percentage represents 17 more homicides last year than in 2015. An increase in other crimes such as auto thefts, rape, and robbery also contribute to the spike in crime. Altogether, 2016’s crime rate across Colorado rose 3.4% per 100,000 residents.

In January of 2017, Time Magazine reported that violent crime had increased across the board in the nation’s largest cities. This took into account an 11% increase in homicides based on data collected from 61 of the country’s largest metropolitan area. Proponents of marijuana legalization point to this national trend as proof that recreational marijuana legalization was not the culprit responsible for an increase in Colorado’s crime as most of the metropolitan areas counted did not allow legalized recreational marijuana use. State lawmakers say that exonerating legalized marijuana by not considering it to be a factor in increased crime would be premature – even naïve. However, they also point out that other drugs may have a significant impact on increasing crime, such as the nationwide increase in the use of harder drugs like heroin. Another factor that could contribute to the increase in crime over the last couple years is the inclusion of felony DUI convictions in the numbers of crimes counted. Most statistics reflect sentencing of any felony, including fourth or subsequent lifetime DUIs that have been treated as felonies in Colorado courts for the last couple of years.

Legal Assistance with Colorado Drug Charges

Whether or not recreational marijuana use has had a negative impact on Colorado’s crime rate has little bearing on whether or not you have violated Colorado’s drug laws, including those governing the use of recreational marijuana. If you are facing drug-related charges in Colorado, it is important to work with an experienced criminal defense attorney that has experience handling these types of charges in Colorado courts. If you are facing Colorado drug-related charges, including those related to recreational or medicinal marijuana use, contact the criminal defense team at Tiftickjian Law Firm to schedule a consultation where you can find out more information about the charges you are facing as well as what options might be available to you in your defense.

(image courtesy of Jacob Ufkes)