Ten years later: Professionals weigh in on a decade of legal recreational marijuana in ColoradoPosted by On

Ten years have passed since Colorado legalized recreational marijuana, a decision that has brought significant changes to the state. Opinions on the impacts of this legislation vary, from law enforcement to recovery specialists and those in the marijuana industry.

“I think a problem exists,” Garfield County Sheriff Lou Vallario said. 

He equated the challenges with marijuana to those posed by alcohol and other drugs. Vallario pointed to an increase in marijuana usage among youths as a pressing concern. 

“Following its legalization, we almost immediately started seeing marijuana in much younger levels and even in grade schools,” Vallario said.

Despite these concerns, Vallario acknowledged that marijuana’s effects are generally more subdued compared to stimulants like fentanyl or cocaine. 

“It’s more depressing, so we don’t see the radical behavior like we would with fentanyl or cocaine, but we have definitely viewed it as a gateway drug,” he said. 

Vallario also highlighted the legal challenges law enforcement faces, balancing between state legality and federal illegality.

The issue of driving under the influence presents a unique challenge. Vallario noted that in Colorado, the charge for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, legal or illegal, is the same. 

“Many times we’ll stop people for their driving behavior, and there might be multiple substances on board in their system,” Vallario said, adding that…

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