Colorado’s chief medical officer told CBC Radio’s “Island Morning” host Matt Rainnie this morning that marijuana legalization hasn’t had a negative effect in his state.
In addition to his duties as chief medical officer, Larry Wolk, M.D. has served as the executive director of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment since Sep. 16, 2013, before Colorado enacted recreational marijuana legalization.
Wolk joined Canadian radio show “Island Morning” to share his professional opinion on the impact of cannabis legalization in Colorado and discuss what Canada can learn and expect from his state’s experiences.
When asked for his “general impressions overall” on the impact of marijuana legalization in 2014, Wolk said that he hasn’t seen much, clarifying that “We haven’t experienced any significant issues as a result of legalization.”
Wolk noted that early concerns about legalization like increased access and use amongst youth failed to materialize, saying, “we just haven’t see that pan out.”
While calls to poison control centers have increased since 2014, Wolk said he suspects people are more inclined to make such calls now that marijuana is legal. As for the uptick in emergency room visits, Wolk said “most” of those visitors are from out of state and unaware of the products or education programs provided in Colorado.
When Raine asked specifically about the minimum age for recreational legalization, Wolk said he sees 21 as “appropriate,” but added that it makes sense for a province to align the minimum age for cannabis use with their minimum drinking age — which is 18 years of age in Alberta, Manitoba, and Quebec. Current scientific understanding of human brain development suggests the brain reaches maturity after about 25 years, which Wolk noted.
The way Wolk describes it, the average Colorado medical or recreational dispensary is relatively discreet and unassuming as a result of regulations on zoning, signage, visibility, and advertising.
When asked about the possibility of selling alcohol and liquor in the same place, Wolk is strongly opposed, noting that the effects of alcohol and cannabis are increased exponentially in co-use scenarios.
On the subject of impaired driving, “there’s been no increase,” he said.
“We’ve seen actually an overall decrease of DUIs since legalization,” said Wolk, and the numbers continue to back it up. In the first three months of 2017, the Colorado State Patrol reported a 33-percent drop in marijuana-impairment citations from the previous year’s 232 incidents.