Public Safety Impacts

Marijuana related Hospitalizations

The number of patients arriving at Colorado hospitals and emergency rooms due to marijuana exposure rose significantly after the drug was legalized and made available at retail shops, according to reports by the Colorado Department of Public Health. Hospitalizations involving patients with possible marijuana exposures and diagnoses increased from approximately 803 per 100,000 between 2001 and 2009 to 2,413 per 100,000 after marijuana was legalized.

Studies made by physicians from the University of Colorado said their most pressing concern after marijuana legalization was in children who accidentally ingested marijuana. The doctors reported they had 14 children admitted for marijuana exposure from September to December 2014.

IQ, Learning, and Job Performance

Studies have found that marijuana use is linked with dropping out of school, and subsequent unemployment, social welfare dependence, and a lower self-reported quality of life than non-marijuana abusing individuals.

Safety concerns are often a company's primary reason for prohibiting marijuana in the workplace. Marijuana use has been linked to an increase in job accidents and injuries, and the National Institute on Drug Abuse notes that the short-term effects of marijuana include impaired body movement, difficulty with thinking and problem-solving, memory problems, and an altered sense of time.

In May 2015, an article in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine concluded that there is a likely statistical association between illicit drug use, including marijuana, and workplace accidents.

Driving safety

The impact marijuana use makes on transportation safety can be especially alarming. The drug impairs attentiveness, motor coordination, and reaction time and impacts the perception of time and speed. Studies from the National Institute on Drug Abuse have found that marijuana negatively impacts driving performance and other researchers have found that acute use of the drug increases the risk of crashes and fatal collisions.

According to reports from the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas (HIDTA) in Washington and Colorado, the year retail marijuana sales started in Washington the percentage of traffic deaths related to marijuana doubled. In Colorado, marijuana‐related traffic deaths increased 48 percent in the three‐year average (2013‐2015) since Colorado legalized recreational marijuana compared to the three‐year average (2010‐2012) prior to legalization.