Literature Reviews About Legalization Of Marijuana In Colorado And Its Impact Over The Criminal Justice System

April 13, 2022 by Essay Writer


Five states within the USA have the legislation governing the legalized realization of marijuana in small amounts. Colorado is not an exception as the majority of the population in this union support this policy. Given the fact that the issue of the impact of the legalization of marijuana has not been researched properly by the experts, this paper will present the overwiev of the major studies pertaining to this question. Nowadays, the population believe that marijuana should be treated in the similar manner to the regulation of the realization of alcohol and tobacco in the country.
Despite the fact that Colorado started the path towards the decriminalization of the marijuana usage in the union, in the forthcoming years some other territories would like to join this initiative. Although, the population of Colorado is divided into the supporters and opponents to this initiative as the expectations differ. Some people state that the legalization of the recreational marijuana allows to decrease the criminal justice expenditure due to the suspension of certain activities aimed to trace the drug dealers, etc. Moreover, the proponents believe that the legalization leads to the creation of beneficial environment for the development of the economy of the union, while the general safety of the population has been already improved as well. Besides, the critics of the initiative reaffirm that the approach towards legalization of marijuana only boost the exposure to the criminal actions while the teenagers has obtained more freedom and room to use the marijuana without any restriction. This paper provides the analysis of the general evaluation of the policy on the marijuana legalization, while its perspective influence on the criminal justice system is considered.

Literature review

In 2012 Colorado became the first state in the USA that has decided to decriminalize the penalties over the realization and usage of marijuana. With adoption new legislation, the criminal justice system of the state has been changed to some extent so that the new approaches to the prosecution and identification of the offenders should be developed. However, the issue of the impact of the decriminalization of marijuana offenses is still controversial, while the followers of the removal of the prohibition claim the positive consequences outweigh the negative impact. Talking about the influence over the changes in the criminal justice system in Colorado, the main benefits of the decriminalization are the following:

The huge decrease in the arrests over the possession and realization of marijuana;

Reduction of the amount of the citizens bearing criminal responsibility;
The system of law has turned focus to much more serious offenses and crimes taking place in Colorado;
The clear reduction of the traffic incidents with the people exposed to alcoholic drinks as the usage marijuana does not impact the ability of the person to drive;

The increase of the level of usage marijuana within the population has not been seen and identified;

Increase of the general welfare of the union due to the enlargement of the taxation revenues applicable to the sphere of realization marijuana.
Given the fact that the Colorado’s legislation aimed to control the realization of marijuana is relatively new, the overall impact of the decriminalization policy will be seen in few years. Moreover, the current legislation has the evident borders and limitations in case the person considers to violate this framework. In particular, the state bodies of Colorado has decided that recreational marijuana should be legalized in order to provide the individuals with the opportunity to use and possess up to one ounce of marijuana, while its growing is permitted within the reasonable volumes. Meanwhile, the establishments of the licensed stores is allowed as well . (“Colorado’s Legalization Of Marijuana And The Impact On Public Safety”, 2014)
Besides, the adoption of the marijuana-related legislation has led to the situation when Nebraskan law enforcement agencies market the huge enlargement in the arrests and jail admissions for these types of the actions in the border counties. This statement evidences that Colorado enforcement agencies are not ready to conduct the surveillance over the general territory of the state as well as it has no relevant facilities to implement this strategy in full. According to the recent study devoted to the evaluation of the influence of Colorado marijuana policy over the related territories shows that the border counties are subject of the increase in the marijuana offended and several imrisonment. At the same time the attention is paid to the analysis of the law enforcement practices in relation to the realization of marijuana in Colorado and Nebraska. Upon the comparison of the situation afterwards the adoption of new legislation, the offices and several presides within the Colorado criminal justice system report on the exposure to the marijuana-related offenses that take place in the surrounding territories to the union (Ferraiolo, 2014).
According to the provisions of the legal acts stipulating the formation of the appropriate environment for the enforcement of the marijuana legislation, the federal government plays the crucial role in the implementation of the law in practice. In this respect, the functions of the government cover the following actions:

Prevention of the distribution of marijuana in large volumes;

Avoid the revenue flow from the realization of marijuana to the criminal cartels:
The main concern in relation to the legalization of marijuana in Colorado is whether it fosters the crime offenses or not. In this respect, the legalization is expected to decrease the number of the crimes as the black market of the realization of this item is subject to the deliberate and profound governmental control. The several studies, performed for purposes to conduct the analysis of the impact of the marijuana policies on the criminal system, show that the amount of such actions as the murder, assaults, robbery has not been changed. These studies cover the period from the launch of decriminalization initiated by the leadership of Colorado in 1975 and up to nowadays (Hickenlooper, 2014).
Akthough, in terms of the criminal justice system, the process of the decriminalization of seemed to be beneficial. The statistics and related study presents that the policy pursued by the state bodies of Colorado allows to decrease the budget expenses over the criminal justice activities and operations. This decrease in expenditure is referred to such spheres and the police protection and incarcenation, while the rate of the employment in the police facilities remains stable. In addition, several reports about the decrease of the arrest for the usage of marijuana allows to presume that the criminal justice system has become unloaded with some offenses as the attention nowadays is paid to the murders and other serious crimes bite related to the marijuana. Furthermore, the representatives of the persecution office in Colorado report about the decrease of the property robberies that previous were linked to the usage of marijuana (Kamin, n.d.).
Despite the fact that the majority of the people consider that marijuana decriminalization leads to the increase in drug usage, the reality differs. Colorado is not familiat with the boost of the drug abuses or huge increase in the level of marijuana usage. In contrast the situation remains stable as the non-criminal justice costs have not been increased. Under these costs, one should understand the payments form the budget issued for the medical treatment of arrested persons, financial support for the improvement of their mental health, etc. Meanwhile, the another presumption is related to the expectations that level of crimes committed will be increased so that the criminal justice system will have to overcome the increasing criminal actions. However, this position is based on the idea that the drug usage is the main cause of the crime, while the experience shows that the offenders in this sphere has used drugs. Although, there is no direct evidence that usage of the drugs leads to the formation of the criminal behaviour. In this respect, the Colorado criminal justice system should not expect the growth in the criminal activities, as the other factors underlying these actions should be taken into account. For example, the status of the person and his welfare may play the major role in the formation his attitude to the criminal behaviour. Therefore, there is minimal evidence that the marijuana use and the criminal behaviour are linked to each other. Moreover, the recent research shows that marijuana is the least drug that may cause the criminal activities. In addition, the elder part of the population is considered to treat the abuse of marijuana on the same terms and limits and the alcoholic usage within the legal understanding (Ratzan, 2014).
In contrast, the other research confirms that irrespective the policy at the decriminalization marijuana, the number of arrests of the marijuana users have been increased since the end of XX century. Besides, marijuana violations represent the low share in the workload of the court and police institutions as the part of the criminal justice system. However, the data about it is collected in the national perspective, while the collection of the information about the workload of the courts on the regional level may shows the another situation due to the decriminalization of marijuana offenses. In this regard, Colorado offices has decided to launch the data collection process as to the assessment of the challenges before the cirminal justice system in relation to newly adopted legislation.


The legislation adopted in Colorado at the finalization the process of legalization the usage of recreational marijuana is relatively new. In this regard, it is quite difficult to find the balance between the positive and negative impact of this legal act and the related changed over the criminal justice system in the state. Approximately in few years the current enforcement agencies would report on the huge increase of the criminal related offenses or will state on the their reduction. However, all the effects of the decriminalization process over the criminal justices system and the union in general may be divided into certain categories: economical, social and legal. In terms of economical perspective, the decriminalization creates additional working places within the justice system, minimizes the expenditures of the state bodies over the prosecution and tracking of the cartels producing marijuana. Besides the criminal justice system represents the main platform governing the implementation and enforcement of the adopted legislation on the local level.
However the issue of the impact of the drug policy over the criminal justice system has not been considered enough. The additional investigation of the influence of legalization marijuana as the supplementary tool for the criminal justice system or its breaker should be provided. In this case, the analysis should be focused over the effects the usage of marijuana may create for the population, while the perspective actions of the bodies in the criminal justice system should be evaluated. Moreover, it is not clear whether the amount of the offense related to the marijuana usage has increased. In this regard, it is necessary to understand whether the criminal justice system is ready to respond to the challenges created by the adopted legislation as the other unions of the USA are considering about opportunity to adjust the drug policy accordingly.


Colorado’s Legalization Of Marijuana And The Impact On Public Safety. (2014). Retrieved 26 January 2016, from
Ferraiolo, K. (2014). Morality Framing in U.S. Drug Control Policy: An Example From Marijuana Decriminalization. World Medical & Health Policy, 6(4), 347-374.
Hickenlooper, G. (2014). Experimenting with Pot: The State of Colorado’s Legalization of Marijuana. Milbank Quarterly, 92(2), 243-249.
Kamin, S. Marijuana Legalization in Colorado — Lessons for Colombia. SSRN Electronic Journal.
McConnell, J., Choo, E., Zaller, N., Benz, M., Warren, O., & Rising, K. (2015). The impact of state medical marijuana legislation on adolescent marijuana use. Drug And Alcohol Dependence, 146, e200.
Ratzan, S. (2014). The Tyranny of Marijuana: Legislation, Science, and Evidence?. Journal Of Health Communication, 19(2), 133-135.


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