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Marijuana arrests are way down — but Black Coloradans are still twice as likely to get busted for pot, new report says

Seven years after the first recreational pot shops opened for business in Colorado, youth aren’t smoking more weed, older adults are blazing more and marijuana-related arrests are way down — but Black Coloradans are still much more likely to get in trouble for cannabis offenses, according to a state report released Monday.

The biennial report — “Impacts on Marijuana Legalization in Colorado,” commissioned by the Colorado Division of Criminal Justice — is the most extensive look since 2018 at marijuana’s impact across public safety, health, driving and youth consumption.

Overall, the authors highlight a few notable trends in the way cannabis is being consumed in Colorado: People are moving away from smoking and instead are consuming cannabis through vapes and edibles at higher rates.

The age bracket of those who use pot also has shifted immensely since legalization, with individuals over 65 using marijuana at triple the rate they did in 2014.

It’s no surprise that the baby boomer generation is coming around to cannabis, said Truman Bradley executive director of the Marijuana Industry Group.

“Boomers had some experience with (marijuana), at least culturally, back in the day, but also boomers tend to be ‘rule followers’ as a group,” he said.

As people age, however, they may look to cannabis for relief, Bradley added.

But even as fewer people across the board are being arrested on marijuana possession and other weed-related crimes, the marijuana arrest rate for Black individuals (160 per 100,000 people) is more than double that of white residents (76 per 100,000) in Colorado.

“This disparity has not changed in any meaningful way since legalization,” the authors noted.

Research shows that white people use and sell drugs at the same or higher rates as other minority groups, yet Black Americans are far more likely to be arrested for drug-related crimes.