One week into the nation’s first experiment with legal marijuana for adults over the age of 21, a Denver police spokesperson says the only crimes related to the drug that they've dealt with are four public consumption tickets and one possible marijuana-related DUI.
A Denver police spokesperson told Examiner.com on Wednesday that the department has issued just four tickets for public consumption since legal sales of up to one once of marijuana began a week ago. Two of those tickets were handed out on the first day of retail sales and half of the four tickets were issued to those from out-of-state. They also said there may have been one DUI issued, although drivers who had used both marijuana and alcohol were likely to be processed under alcohol, making it difficult to ascertain the number of marijuana-related DUI arrests.
The spokesperson emphasized that the role of the police is enforcement. Although stopping illegal drug trafficking remains an important task, Denver Police Chief Robert White said recently that actively seeking out public marijuana use will not be a priority for the department.
This latest information supports the perception that Colorado’s recreational rollout has gone exceedingly smoothly, quelling fears among critics of the law who worried that legalization would lead to higher instances of social problems, addiction, and crime. Through the first week, the latter concern appears to be overblown. In addition to other crimes, there were no issues reported among those waiting in the long lines outside of many retail stores, the DPD spokesperson said.
Credit the cooperation of those in the industry, the police, and the public. As a recent Denver Post article noted, motivation for a calm and orderly debut of the new laws -- the first of their kind anywhere in the world -- was high on all sides, from the police tasked with enforcement to the politicians who designed the regulations to the business owners taking a bold entrepreneurial risk. The stakes may have been highest for marijuana users themselves, who had obvious motivation to prove that they would respectfully comply with the new laws.
All sides handled it well. Police worked with business owners to ensure order and safety in the lines at the retail shops, politicians seemed satisfied that businesses were complying with the extensive regulations surrounding recreational sales, and customers took care to consume their products in private, legal environments. After one week of retail marijuana sales in Denver, things appear to be going as well as anyone could have hoped for.