In Colorado marijuana legalization has worked exactly as hoped on the judicial front. In the year since the possession of a small amount of marijuana was legalized for adults the number of marijuana related arrest has plummeted. From Denver Post:
According to a Denver Post analysis of data provided by the Colorado Judicial Branch, the number of cases filed in state court alleging at least one marijuana offense plunged 77 percent between 2012 and 2013. The decline is most notable for charges of petty marijuana possession, which dropped from an average of 714 per month during the first nine months of 2012 to 133 per month during the same period in 2013 — a decline of 81 percent.
The drop is impressive given that even before Amendment 64 was approved Colorado already had some of the better marijuana laws in the country. It has a medical marijuana program that was very easy to become part of. This shows how important marijuana legalization is even in states without harassing marijuana laws.
The approval of Amendment 64 didn’t just change the law, it seems to have completely changed the culture. Arrest dropped sharply even for marijuana violations that are still technically illegal. Marijuana is no longer seen as a priority by police.
For instance, charges for possessing more than 12 ounces of marijuana dropped by 73 percent, and cases alleging possession with intent to distribute fewer than 5 pounds of marijuana dipped by 70 percent. Even charges for public consumption of marijuana fell statewide, by 17 percent, although Denver police have increased their number of citations issued for public consumption.
All together this means Colorado didn’t needlessly waste millions arresting adults just for smoking pot.