Newsflash! Not only has Marijuana Legalization happened in many states across the country, the world HAS NOT come to an end! Not only has the world not come to an end, but marijuana legalization appears to be making the world better! A free 58 page booklet from the Drug Policy Alliance, From Prohibition to Progress: A Status Report on Marijuana Legalization, clearly and concisely establishes how and why marijuana legalization is working so far.
Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon, Washington state, and Washington, D.C. have all legalized marijuana. Vermont has become the first state to legalize marijuana through its legislature instead of at the ballot box.
Marijuana Legalization ballot initiatives for the 2018 election have been filed in Arizona, Florida, Missouri, Nebraska and South Dakota while state legislators in.Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Maryland, New Jersey, New Mexico and New York are considering legalization legislation.
To understand the effect and scope of marijuana legalization and its consequences, the booklet examines the impact of marijuana legalization by focusing on four measures: social justice, public health, road safety, and state economics. It provides much-needed information as to what happens when a state legalizes marijuana for adult-use. As it turns out, there is very little bad and an awful lot of good.
Marijuana Legalization and Public Safety
States are saving significant sums of money and protecting the public all at the same time by comprehensively regulating marijuana for adult use.
One of the key findings is that the average number of arrests in states that have legalized marijuana have plummeted by over 90% saving states millions of dollars and preventing the criminalization of thousands of people.
Most amazing is the positive effect marijuana legalization has on public safety and health.
- Contrary to the predictions of drug prohibitionists, youth marijuana use has remained stable in states that have legalized.
- Access to legal marijuana is associated with reductions in some of the most troubling harms associated with opioid use, including opioid overdose deaths and untreated opioid use disorders.
Marijuana Legalization and The Economy
What should gladden the hearts of both lawmakers and taxpayers is that states are exceeding their marijuana revenue estimates and filling their coffers with hundreds of millions of dollars. Most importantly states are putting this money to very good use.
Colorado, Nevada and Oregon combined are providing hundreds of millions of dollars to state schools. Washington allocates 55% of its marijuana tax revenue to fund basic health plans. Drug and alcohol treatment programs receive significant funding in most states.
Of particular interest relating to social justice, California and Massachusetts invest a substantial share of their marijuana tax revenues in the communities most adversely impacted by drug arrests and incarceration, particularly low-income communities of color, to help repair the harms of unequal drug law enforcement.
Marijuana Legalization and Stoned Driving
Counter to the claims that marijuana legalization will result in bloody carnage on our roadways, the report finds that DUI arrests are down in Colorado and Washington. Most significantly the report finds that there is no correlation between marijuana legalization and automobile collisions as crash rates in both states are statistically similar to comparable states without legal marijuana.
Not only is legal marijuana filling state coffers it is also filling people’s pockets. Preliminary estimates suggest that the legal marijuana industry employs between 165,000 to 230,000 full and part-time workers across the country. As more states legalize marijuana and replace their unregulated markets with new legal markets, the number of jobs will skyrocket.
Problems with Marijuana Legalization
It’s not all nirvana however as the report notes consuming marijuana in public is illegal in all jurisdictions that have legalized marijuana for adults 21 and older. This means that people who lack the means to pay the fines and fees, or those without homes or in federally-subsidized housing, risk being jailed for consuming a lawful substance. Public use violations are also disproportionately enforced against people of color, particularly Black people.
Although marijuana legalization has reduced historically high numbers of youth (under 18 years of age) and young adults (between 18 and 20 years old) from being stopped and arrested for marijuana offenses, these reductions are inconsistent from state-to-state.
The statistics are astounding and there is so much more to the report then I have summarized here, so download a copy for yourself by CLICKING HERE. Good news travels slowly so help speed it up by sending copies to your friends, family members, co-workers and associates of all kinds who were doubting Thomas’s about the wisdom of legalizing marijuana.
Lanny Swerdlow, RN, LNC is host of the Internet radio show Marijuana Compassion & Common Sense and founder of the Marijuana Anti Prohibition Project and the Brownie Mary Democratic Club. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.