WCDPHE Launches Marijuana is Not Harmless Campaign

Published on December 26, 2019

Marijuana is Not Harmless

Weld County – In 2012, Colorado voters passed Amendment 64, which legalized recreational marijuana. In 2014, the first recreational marijuana dispensaries opened. Based on 2018 data from the Colorado Department of Revenue, there are over 520 recreational marijuana dispensaries, which is more than twice the number of statewide Starbucks. Despite the ease of availability and social acceptance, recreational marijuana use has a downside. The 2019 annual report, The Legalization of Marijuana in Colorado: The Impact, Volume 6, issued by the Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (RMHIDTA) reports the yearly number of emergency department visits related to marijuana have increased 54 percent since 2013; and the yearly number of hospitalizations has increased 101 percent. Traffic deaths involving drivers who tested positive for marijuana has more than doubled since legalization, resulting in one marijuana related traffic death every 3 days. Adult marijuana use in Colorado is 96 percent higher than the national average; and the past month usage for Colorado youth ages 12 and older is 78 percent higher than the national average.

As a result of higher marijuana use rates, the Weld County Health Department launched its new “Marijuana is Not Harmless” campaign. “We acknowledge Colorado voters legalized recreational marijuana,” said Mark E. Wallace, MD, MPH, Executive Director of the Weld County Health Department. “However, the general public, and especially youth, need to understand that marijuana use is not harmless. There are consequences to driving impaired and using frequent amounts of marijuana.” A drug use fact sheet from the National Institute on Drug Abuse finds that compared to those who don’t use marijuana, people who frequently use marijuana report lower life satisfaction, poorer mental health, more relationship problems, and less academic and career success.

Marijuana is NOT harmless. Use can impair your ability to drive safely.

The Weld County “Marijuana is Not Harmless” campaign is using outdoor billboard ads scattered along high-traffic corridors, as well as social media to reach a variety of audiences. According to RMHIDTA, currently 64 percent of local jurisdictions in Colorado have banned medical and recreational marijuana businesses.

To view the “Marijuana is Not Harmless” billboards, the National Institute on Drug Abuse factsheet and the RMHIDTA Annual Report, go to www.weldhealth.org and click on “Health Hot Topics.”