The Denver Post reports that, according to statistics provided by the Colorado State Judicial Branch, the number of cases filed in Colorado Courts in 2013, which alleged at least one marijuana offense as part of the criminal complaint, dropped seventy-seven percent from 2012 to 2013.
The biggest decline was in the number of charges of petty marijuana possession, which dropped eighty-one percent.
While some decrease was expected due to recent legislation permitting persons of 21 years or older to legally possess small amounts of recreational marijuana, this was a bigger drop than anyone anticipated.
Colorado Attorney General John Suthers stated that he suspected the drop might be due to police being reluctant to parse the complexities of the state’s current marijuana law. Tom Raynes, executive director of the Colorado District Attorney’s Council, suggested that the new laws were simply making it harder for police to crack down on the remaining marijuana crimes since police can no longer launch an in depth investigation just because they smell the odor of marijuana. defense and DUI lawyers also believe that the funding that dictates where the police are focused has shifted to dangerous drugs and driving under the influence of drugs enforcement.
Marijuana advocates, on the other hand, praised the drop in prosecutions since it lessens the racially biased impact of marijuana enforcement. For example, a study last year conducted by the ACLU showed that African-Americans in Colorado were arrested for marijuana possession at a rate nearly double that of whites.
The Post warned that its analysis was not necessarily comprehensive, because it did not take into account filings in municipal courts.