The Division of Justice paid for a new study on the influence of marijuana legalization that ended up displaying cannabis applications do not appear to negatively influence neighboring, non-legal states.
The paper’s authors mentioned they sought to answer 3 inquiries in these evaluation of state-level information: 1) How does legalization influence law enforcement sources in legal states? two) How does it influence these sources in bordering, non-legal states? and three) What does legalizing cannabis imply for drug trafficking?
To assess the influence, the researchers looked at statistics on drug possession and distribution arrests in a mix of legalized states and nearby ones that maintained prohibition. According to that information, legalization didn’t result in the sky to fall.
“Legalizing marijuana did not have a noticeable influence on indicators in states that bordered these that legalized,” the study concluded, adding that “there have been no noticeable indications of an improve in arrests associated to transportation or trafficking offenses in states along the northern or southern borders.”
That is evidently a locating that the Justice Division does not want the public to believe it endorses. At the starting of the report—and on every single other page—there’s a disclaimer stressing that even though federal funds have been employed to assistance the investigation, “[o]pinions or points of view expressed are these of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official position or policies of the U.S. Division of Justice.”
Here’s what the study authors, who are affiliated with the Justice Analysis and Statistics Association, identified:
Not surprisingly, arrests for marijuana possession dropped drastically in Washington right after the state legalized cannabis in 2012. These arrests continued to drop right after retails sales became obtainable. Distribution arrests followed a related trend.
There was much less information on Oregon at the time of the study in 2015, as the state legalized the earlier year. On the other hand, the statistics showed that in the course of “the post-legalization period, arrests for marijuana possession, currently low, dropped to close to zero.” Cannabis distribution charges in the state also followed a downward trend.
The researchers then looked at neighboring states that did not legalize. Whilst cannabis accounted for the vast majority of drug possession arrests in Oklahoma, exactly where cannabis is nonetheless prohibited for adult use, the arrest price dipped marginally in the course of the post-legalization years in Colorado from 2012 to 2014.
Arrests for sales and manufacturing of cannabis in Oklahoma also dropped in that timeframe, with the exception of a smaller spike in 2013.
Arrests for possession “increased from 2003 to 2008, but did not transform significantly from 2009 to 2013 (except for a slight improve in 2012)” in Nebraska.
The findings from Nebraska and Oklahoma are especially notable given that these two states sued Colorado more than its marijuana legalization law in 2014, alleging that it successfully polluted their jurisdictions with illegal cannabis. The Supreme Court declined to take the case, and the new study appears to undermine the prohibitionist states’ claims about the influence their neighbor’s legalization law had across their borders.
“No noticeable transform in the trend line for marijuana occurred right after recreational use was legalized in Colorado,” the study authors mentioned of information on possession convictions in Kansas from 2011 to 2014.
Lastly, the researchers looked at drug trafficking trends in Idaho, exactly where cannabis is not legal, and Washington state.
Trafficking arrests essentially improved drastically in 2012 and 2013, but at the identical time, the quantity of situations that have been in the end dismissed far outpaced these that ended in a guilty plea in the post-legalization period.
The researchers supplemented their report with interviews with quite a few law enforcement officials. In spite of the information-primarily based findings on arrest prices for possession, distribution and seizures, police broadly expressed anecdotal issues about challenges such as perceived increases in youth usage, THC potency, drug-impaired driving and an influx in out-of-state guests that have taxed their departments.
Colorado-primarily based interviewees apparently indicated that the improved availability in larger potency THC solutions has mitigated the influence of Mexican drug cartels. On the other hand, Oregon respondents “reported that Russian and Afghani groups who steal crops and money from nearby growers are now heavily involved in drug trafficking.”
Soon after discussing the information limitations of the study, the authors concluded that “it certainly appears to be the case that legalizing the recreational use of marijuana final results in fewer marijuana associated arrests and court cases” and that even though law enforcement sources voiced a variety of issues, quite a few “indicated that methamphetamine and heroin have been significantly bigger difficulties for their agencies than was marijuana.”
The group “saw no proof that marijuana legalization had an influence on indicators in border states,” adding that they “found no indications of increases in arrests associated to transportation/trafficking offenses.”
“Again, it is probable that unique indicators, examined more than a longer period of time, could possibly reveal impacts of marijuana legalization on drug trafficking,” they wrote.
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Photo courtesy of Kimberly Lawson.