According to researchers, decriminalization of marijuana leads to a smaller number of arrests, and it doesn’t lead to a rise in use among teenagers and children.
Researchers associated with the National Bureau of Economic Research and the Washington University found that one simple move led to an incredible decrease in drug arrests. The fact that marijuana possession penalty was reduced from a criminal offense to a civil one, also seems to have managed to prevent a rise in marijuana use among youth.
Connecticut, Rhode Island, Maryland, Vermont, and Massachusetts – these are five states that decriminalized marijuana between the year 2008 and year 2014. Researchers studied the effect of this move in those five states. They discovered that decriminalization of marijuana led to an immediate decline in drug-related arrests, and a significant one at it. This fact shows two things – that police forces of these states followed decriminalization protocol, and that this move had the desired effect.
The study also researched the effect of this move on teenagers and children in all five of these states. Their results are interesting in this field as well. Not only did marijuana use not increase, in Vermont and Rhode Island it even dropped.
The authors of this study claim that their findings are in line with the interpretation that decriminalization policies have a tendency to achieve the desired effect and that their unintended, short-term consequences are down to a minimum. These researchers used the data provided by the Youth Risk Behavior Surveys, as well as federal crime statistics.
The Marijuana Decriminalization Move
Nine states have legalized recreational marijuana, and thirteen more have decriminalized it wholly or partially. In these states, decriminalization means that possession of small amounts is allowed without criminal penalties. On the other hand, selling larger amounts of marijuana is still illegal in these states.
A study from 2017 made a prediction that medical marijuana will be legal in all 50 states by 2021. At the moment, 29 states allow medical marijuana. 16 states allow cannabis products high in CBD and low in THC.
According to several polls, overall support for legalization of marijuana has never been higher. Results of a survey that was conducted by CBS have shown that 61% of Americans are for marijuana legalization. That is 5 percent more than the year before. According to that same survey, 88% of Americans approve the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes. 65% believe it is less risky than any other drug. A mere 23% believes that it could cause a severe crime increase.
When CBS News conducted a similar survey in 1979, it found that marijuana legalization support was only 27%. By 2011, it became 40%, and it has only grown since.
Quinnipiac University conducted a study in 2017, and it found somewhat similar results. 60% of their subjects support legalization. According to this study though, support for medical marijuana was at an astounding 94%. In both of these surveys, older subjects were more prone to be against legalization. For instance, 76% of people between 18 and 34 years of age were for legalization. Only 37% of people over 65 supported it in the CBS poll. Results from Quinnipiac were very similar. 79% of subjects between 18 and 34 were for legalization, while just 42% of subjects over 65 agreed with it.
Another interesting piece of information comes from a more recent Quinnipiac University survey. According to it, 70% of Americans oppose the attempts of Trump administration to interfere with those states that legalized marijuana. This survey shows that support for the rights of states when it comes to marijuana legalization is significantly higher among Democrats than among Republicans (70% compared to 47%).
Attorney general Jeff Sessions recently overturned the Cole Memo that Barack Obama enacted. This policy protected states that legalized marijuana from federal prosecution. That move shows that the Trump administration might try to enforce federal law in states that legalized marijuana. If this were to happen, it might have a vast effect on state economies, and it might prohibit access to marijuana for medical patients.