Survey claims Colorado’s legal marijuana is attracting homeless people

A survey claims legal marijuana is attracting homeless people in Colorado. The survey was commissioned by the Colorado Division of Criminal Justice. 

The newly released survey in Colorado says that more than one-third of homeless jail inmates have come to the state since 2012, at least in part, because of legal marijuana, CNN reported.

The survey of 507 homeless inmates was to examine a claim made by Colorado’s law enforcement that legal marijuana is attracting homeless people. Colorado was one of the earliest US states that voted to legalize recreational marijuana in 2012 and implemented full legalization in 2014.

However, head of Colorado Division of Criminal Justice says the survey hardly validates the claim.

Instead, the survey found that of the homeless inmates sampled, most had come to Colorado before legalization. The remainder, about 41 per cent, came after 2012, when Colorado voted to legalize recreational marijuana.

Only 77 inmates or 1 per cent fit that description.

However, 35 per cent of those inmates said legal marijuana was among the reasons they came to Colorado.

More data needed for the survey

Stan Hilkey, the executive director of Colorado’s Department of Public Safety, said the results are not “insignificant,” and that “we know that marijuana is one of the reasons that it’s drawn some of the people here since legalization.

However, “it’s not the top reason, but remains one of the reasons.”

Hilkey described the most common reason was “to get away from a problem.”

Meanwhile, Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper criticized the way the survey was conducted and said more data was needed. “They did [the survey] on the cheap,” Hickenlooper, a Democrat, said.

In the Survey only two homeless inmates said they arrived in Colorado post-legalization for marijuana as the only reason, Hickenlooper added, emphasizing that it’s unclear how many chose only one response.

“That is a pretty small number,” he said. “Marijuana, was that something that made them come here? Again, I don’t doubt that a third of them did. Does that mean we’re attracting criminals? We’re attracting a lot of people, and when you attract a lot of people you get some homeless people.”

The survey comes on heels of a reported increased crime in Colorado in recent years despite its decline nationally.

The Colorado Bureau of Investigation and the FBI said the overall crime rate was up 5 per cent in 2016 from 2013, and that violent crime rate was up 12.5 per cent.