August 12, 2018

Crime is Down and Tax Revenue is Up in Denver After Cannabis Legalization

August 12, 2018
A new Denver study shows that crime is down and tax revenue is up after cannabis legalization.

Good news for those who worry that marijuana legalization remotely has anything to do with rising crimes levels.

An annual report that analyzes the effect of cannabis legalization tells the world that crime is down and tax revenue is up. The report, released by the city of Denver, Colorado, covers data from January 2017 to January 2018.

From 2016 to 2017, medical cannabis sales declined by 3% while retail cannabis sales in the city increased by 29%. Tax revenue generated by cannabis sales and licensing in 2017 increased by roughly 20% from the year before and for 2018 revenue is projected to increase by 8%.

From 2014 to 2018, cannabis tax revenue contributed more than $11 million to the city’s “High Costs” youth prevention campaign as well as various youth-serving organizations funded by Denver’s Offices of Children’s Affairs and Behavioral Health. Additionally, $12.4 million in cannabis tax revenue was appropriated for deferred maintenance, affordable housing, and opioid intervention.

“We took on the daunting challenge of becoming the first major city in America to manage legalized recreational marijuana and we are having success,” Hancock said. “That’s because of coordination between Denver’s Excise and Licenses, Denver’s Fire Department, Police Department, Department of Public Health and Environment, Community Planning and Development, as well as our partners in other city agencies, the community from the marijuana industry and public health advocates.”


Regulation: $2,385,647, 12%

Enforcement: $2,805,803, 13%

Education: $3,652,116, 17%

Public Health: $2,363,375, 11%

Improvement to City and Facilities: $10,000,000, 47%


Cannabis-related crime in 2017 represented less than 1% of overall crime in the city and declined from 0.42% in 2016 to 0.30% in 2017. Likewise, cannabis industry related crime fell from 0.32% in 2016 to 0.21% in 2017. The report stated that “Violent crime related to the licensed marijuana industry is rare, with seven reported in 2013, 10 reported in 2014, eight reported in 2015, three reported in 2016, and 8 reported in 2017.” Marijuana-related DUIDs stayed flat at 63 in 2016 and 63 in 2017.

In a statement, Denver Mayor Michael B. Hancock praised the report and stated that its results demonstrate that the city’s approach to cannabis legalization is working.


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