Study also shows drop in marijuana-related arrests
From the WashU School of Medicine News…
As a handful of states have legalized marijuana for recreational use, some others have taken less dramatic steps toward decriminalizing pot by reducing the legal penalties associated with marijuana possession. In the latter, for example, possession of small amounts of marijuana for personal use is considered a civil or local infraction — similar to simple traffic violations — rather than a state crime.
Now, an analysis of marijuana use and arrests in five states that decriminalized marijuana between 2007 and 2015 indicates there was no corresponding rise in the drug’s use among young people, according to research led by Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. Further, marijuana-related arrests declined significantly in those states.
The findings are published July 16 in The International Journal of Drug Policy.
“It seems decriminalization is a viable middle ground between legalization and continuing to arrest people for possessing small amounts of marijuana,” said first author Richard A. Grucza, PhD, a professor of psychiatry. “The policies have a net positive effect on public health because we don’t see increases in marijuana use among young people, and there’s the additional benefit that there were fewer marijuana arrests.”
In states where marijuana has been decriminalized, the possession of small amounts of pot no longer carries criminal penalties, such as prison time, but possession of larger amounts and sale of the drug remain criminal offenses. The laws vary from state to state, as does what constitutes a small amount of pot — less than 10 grams in some states, but up to 50 or 100 grams in others.