The jury is in on cannabis legalization in North America: it’s been a success.

Not only do drug arrests fall after legalization, but other crime numbers improve as well. Violent crime fell by 10 percent in Washington State after legalization. Research has also identified that crime rates in neighborhoods with retail cannabis stores see a localized drop crime rates due, in part, to the disruption of illicit drug markets.

Writing in 1985, Paul Goldstein found that many of the deaths related to drug violence happened due to the prohibitionist system used to regulate drugs. What he called the ‘systemic model’ included violence perpetrated by gangs competing for territory and distribution pathways. When the market operates within the law the courts become the battlegrounds, not neighborhood street corners … We can pursue effective, harm reduction focused drugs education to dissuade young people from problematic cannabis use as we simultaneously generate revenue to improve their educational experience and make their communities safer. Saying that the jury is still out on cannabis legalization makes it sound like we’re waiting for something to go wrong. But it has been four years since Colorado and Washington began this experiment and legalization appears to be working well when we consider the full picture. The benefits of legalization are being felt far beyond the population that consumes cannabis. Legalization is creating economic opportunities, improved educational opportunities, and ending the unwarranted criminalization of tens of thousands of citizens each year for possession a drug that is arguably less harmful to the population than alcohol or tobacco. Legalization comes with new challenges, and old concerns, but when evaluated in its entirety, the evidence shows it is working pretty well.

Original Article (
The jury is in on cannabis legalization in North America: it’s been a success.
Artwork Fair Use: Beinecke Library

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