It was controversial when both Colorado and Washington legalized recreational marijuana in 2012. Those opposing legalization sent warnings that ending prohibition on marijuana would “wreak havoc on society.” Naysayers said that the taxation of marijuana wouldn’t be worth it, that more children would use marijuana, and that the roadways would be cluttered with stoned drivers.
A new report by the Drug Policy Alliance shows that the opposite has occurred, according to the Huffington Post. Arrests for marijuana-related crimes have drastically declined. Teen use has not increased. Traffic-related deaths since legalization have not increased. The legal marijuana market has brought in over $500 million in revenue.
Joy Haviland, staff attorney for Drug Policy Alliance, said, “This report shows that a lot of those fears don’t come to fruition in the case of legalization. It’s clear that prohibition has not worked, so states need a new solution going forward.”
To collect data for the study, surveys completed by students in Alaska, Colorado, Oregon and Washington were reviewed. These surveys show data regarding lifetime marijuana use and current marijuana use.
Between 2012 and 2014 there were 46 percent fewer marijuana-related arrests in Colorado. Between 2011 and 2013 in Washington, there was a 98 percent reduction in simple marijuana-related court filings. In Washington, D.C., from just 2014 through 2015, there were 85cpercent fewer marijuana arrests and 98cpercent fewer arrests for marijuana possession.
Even in states where recreational marijuana is legal but no actual retail locations are open yet, such as in Oregon and Alaska, arrests have also decreased.
The study says: “By no longer arresting and prosecuting possession and other low-level marijuana offenses, states are saving hundreds of millions of dollars and thousands of adults are no longer getting stopped, arrested, charged, or convicted for the unlawful possession of marijuana.”