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Feds Release Marijuana Stats That Show Negative Effects Of Legalization

DENVER (CBS4) - In a 170-page document the Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area, part of the federal government, has compiled data to show the impact of legalized marijuana.

Analyst Chelsey Clarke says it's an opportunity for other states considering legalization to get the facts and not an editorial.

"We are trying to show other states the road we have gone down and the negative impacts that have occurred," Clarke said.

RELATED STORIES: Marijuana Legalization Story Archive

The information comes from national and statewide databases. Through those sources they compile the statistics.

A few headlines from the report include:

 In 2014, when retail marijuana businesses began operating, that in only a year:

- Marijuana-related traffic deaths increased 32 percent
- Almost 20 percent of all traffic deaths were marijuana related compared to only
- 10 percent less than five years ago
- Marijuana-related emergency department visits increased 29 percent
- Marijuana-related hospitalizations increased 38 percent
- Marijuana-related calls to the rocky mountain poison center increased 72 percent
- Diversion of Colorado marijuana to other states increased 25 percent

In 2013, the year marijuana was legalized in Colorado:

- Colorado teenagers now rank #3 in the nation for marijuana use and 56 percent higher than the national average
- Colorado college-age group now rank #2 in the nation for marijuana use and 54 percent higher than the national average

RMHIDTA also conducted a survey of school resource officers and counselors who say pot is having a tremendous impact inside schools.

"Kids going out on lunch breaks, getting high and coming back to school loaded on marijuana," Clarke said.

Many of the resource officers and counselors say the students got the pot from people who can legally purchase it or family members.

"That's happening in our schools every day," Clarke said.

RMHIDTA says the public has the right to know the facts and leaders need to know the truth about what has happened in Colorado since the state legalized marijuana in 2013.

"Marijuana is impacting all of us in one way or another - whether we realize it or not - and having a relaxed attitude is dangerous," Clarke said.

LINK: Read The Full Report

Jennifer Brice is a reporter with CBS4 focusing on crime and courts. Follow her on Twitter @CBS4Jenn.

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