Prosecutors in Colorado are blaming marijuana for the increasing number of murders in the state.

A quick sampling of the latest reports in the state has shown massive changes in the crime rates in the state ever since marijuana use was fully legalized. One report titled ‘Crime in the City and County Of Denver’ shows increases in rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, theft from a motor vehicle, larceny, and auto theft when comparing the first four months of 2015 with 2016.

George Brauchler, the Arapahoe County District Attorney, told FOX 31 Denver that it was the small time marijuana dealers and not the big time dealers who are responsible for the current crisis. He said, “There is increased crime, sometimes violent crime, associated with legalization of marijuana. That’s not what you’d expect. You’d expect the harder-core drugs.”

Notable Colorado Homicide Reports Related to Marijuana

According to FOX 31 Denver, 10 out of 15 homicide cases in Aurora have been linked to marijuana. There was also a report of a gruesome murder in Jefferson County whereby a marijuana harvester was killed, thrown into the trunk of the car, which was then set on fire. In another case, three people – one adult and two minors – were charged with fatally shooting 19-year old Mark Chafant, who was trying to sell them a bag of marijuana.

Reports such as these disprove the widely held views that legalizing marijuana would end the black market and thereby reduce crime. Police also have to contend with illegal growing operations throughout the state. Sometimes, they cannot tell whether a marijuana growing operation is legal or illegal.

In one instance reported by the Denver Post (DP), police broke three marijuana growing operations and seized 1,300 plants in February and March. However, no one has been charged with a crime yet. Police spokesman Sonny Jackson told DP, “We’re seeing some trends toward placing illegal grows near legal grows. But every case is different. … Just because a grow is unlicensed doesn’t mean it’s illegal.”

These illegal growers then end up feeding the black market. It’s a never-ending cycle.

High Profile Marijuana Related Homicide Case

According to a report from the LA Times, the children of Richard Kirk – a man charged with first-degree murder for killing his wife Kristine – are suing recreational marijuana company Gaia’s Garden LLC, and its distributor, Nutritional Elements Inc. for wrongful death. They claim the company’s edible products caused their father’s psychosis which then led to their mother’s murder.

The lawsuit filed in the Denver District Court states, “The packaging and labeling for the potent candy (pot-laced Karma Kandy Orange Ginger) contained no directions, instructions or recommendations respecting the product’s proper consumption or use. The edible producers negligently, recklessly and purposefully concealed vital dosage and labeling information from their actual and prospective purchasers including Kirk in order to make a profit.

Sean McAllister, who is Gaia’s Garden attorney and one of the people responsible for writing the amendment that legalized recreational marijuana in Colorado, told the LA Times that the case has “no merit”. He said, “This company was complying with all state labeling requirements at the time that say marijuana can have adverse health effects, so the proposition that someone didn’t know marijuana could impair them is preposterous and baseless.”

Cases such as these go to show that people in Colorado expect marijuana growers and sellers to provide quality products and sufficient information on safe use. With marijuana-related homicide rates rising, prosecutors need to lead the charge against illegal marijuana growing and dealing operations.