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8 Things We Now Know That Happen (and That Don’t Happen) When We Legalize Marijuana

Photo Credit: Drug Policy Alliance

The good social examination that is pot legalization is now 5 years old, with 6 states already permitting authorised pot sales, two some-more where authorised sales will start within months, and nonetheless another that, along with the District of Columbia, has ratified personal possession and cultivation of the herb.

As a series of state legislatures—including Connecticut, Delaware, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, and New York—seriously anticipate joining the march this year, it’s some-more critical than ever to be means to consider just what impact pot legalization has had on those states that have led the way.

The prophets of doom warned of all demeanour of social ills that would arise if pot were legalized. From hordes of dope-addled youths aimlessly erratic the streets to red-eyed carnage on the highway, the divinations were dire.


And they were wrong. In a report expelled Tuesday, From Prohibition to Progress, the Drug Policy Alliance takes a prolonged demeanour at just what has happened in the states have ratified weed. It’s looking flattering encouraging:

1. Marijuana arrests plummeted.

Well, of course. If there’s one thing you could envision about legalizing marijuana, this is it. The decrease in the series of pot arrests is dramatic: 98 percent in Washington, 96 percent in Oregon, 93 percent in Alaska, 81 percent in Colorado, 76 percent in D.C. That means tens of thousands of people not being cuffed, hauled away, and branded with lifelong rapist records, with all the consequences those bring.

The assets in human autocracy and intensity are inestimable, but the assets to state rapist probity and correctional systems are not: The report puts them at hundreds of millions of dollars.

2. But the secular disparities in pot arrests have not ended.

While pot legalization dramatically reduces the series of people arrested for pot offenses, it clearly does not finish racially manifold policing. The immeasurable disparities in pot arrests remain, even in authorised states. Black and Latino people sojourn distant some-more likely to be arrested for pot offenses than white people, despite identical rates of use and sales opposite secular groups. There is work to be finished here.

3. A tide of teenage weed heads is not unleashed on the nation.

High school kids in the beginning legalization states smoke pot at rates identical to kids in states that haven’t ratified it, and those rates have remained stable. In the after legalization states, rates of teen use change widely, but have mostly stabilized or declined in the years heading up to legalization. And in those latest states—Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, California—regulatory programs are possibly not nonetheless in place or so new they’re doubtful to have influenced girl use rates.

4. The highways sojourn safe.

In the beginning legalization states, Colorado and Washington, the sum series of arrests for pushing under the change of ethanol and other drugs is down, and the pile-up rates in both states are statistically identical to states that haven’t ratified it. In fact, there seems to be no association between legalization and pile-up rates.

5. States with authorised pot have revoke rates of opioid-related harm.

In Colorado, an ceiling trend in overdoses began to decrease after 2014, the first year of sell pot sales in the state. Other certain indicia come from medical pot states, which report a scarcely 25 percent dump in overdose death rates, a 23 percent rebate in opioid addiction-related hospitalizations and a 15 percent rebate in opioid diagnosis admissions.

6. Marijuana taxation revenues are big—and bigger than predicted. 

Legalization states have collected some-more than a billion dollars in pot taxation revenues—and that’s not counting the beast marketplace in California, where recreational sales just began this month. Likewise, delayed roll-outs of taxed and regulated pot commerce in Maine and Massachusetts meant no taxation dollars have nonetheless been generated there. In the states that do have authorised pot sales, altogether sales and taxation revenues fast exceeded initial estimates.

7. Marijuana taxation dollars are going for good things.

Like $230 million to the Colorado Department of Education in two years to fund school construction, early literacy, school health, and bullying impediment programs. Likewise, schools in Oregon get 40 percent of the pot taxes and schools in Nevada will get $56 million in indiscriminate pot taxation revenues. Oregon also allocates 20 percent of pot taxes for ethanol and drug treatment, while Washington kicks in 25 percent. In Washington state, 55 percent of pot taxation revenues fund simple health plans.

8. Legal pot is a pursuit origination engine.

The authorised pot attention has already combined an estimated 200,000 full- and part-time jobs, and that’s before California, Maine, and Massachusetts come online. As pot moves from the black marketplace to authorised markets, weed looks like a expansion attention and pursuit generator for years to come.

“Marijuana criminalization has been a large rubbish of income and has unequally spoiled black and Latino communities,” said Jolene Forman, staff profession at the Drug Policy Alliance and author of the report. “This report shows that pot legalization is working. States are effectively safeguarding open health and reserve by extensive regulations. Now more states should build on the successes of pot legalization and allege policies to correct the racially manifold harms of the fight on drugs.”

In further to reforming police practices to revoke secular disparities, the report also says there is some-more work to be finished on fostering equity within the pot attention and points to models for doing so, such as the California sustenance that having a before drug self-assurance can’t be the solitary basement for denying a pot license.

Having places where people can actually smoke authorised pot also stays an issue, the report noted. Public expenditure is not allowed in any of the authorised states. It’s a ticketable offense in some and a misconduct in others. Public use violations are also disproportionately enforced against people of color, and the deception of fines could lead to jail time for bad people incompetent to compensate for the crime of using a authorised substance.

And what about the kids? The report records that while legalization has generally resulted in shortening historically high numbers of immature people being stopped and arrested for pot offenses, these reductions are inconsistent, and in some circumstances, immature people now contain a flourishing commission of pot arrests. A indication could be California, where kids under 18 can only be charged with polite infractions.

Legalizing pot may be required for achieving social probity goals, but it’s not sufficient for achieving them. As this report creates clear, how we legalize pot matters, and that’s still a work in progress. But so far, it’s looking flattering good.  

Phillip Smith is editor of the AlterNet Drug Reporter and author of the Drug War Chronicle.

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