New Study Shows Decriminalization of Marijuana in California has Not Led to the Disaster Predicted by Opponents

Those who oppose the legalization of marijuana are often quick to cite all the harm that will be done when more people run out and buy it. According to a recent Washington Post article on the effects of legalization in California, the opposite appears to be the case.

1212912_growing_graph.jpgThe article cites a new report from Center of Juvenile and Criminal Justice that shows overdoses, teen arrests, DUIs, and school dropout rates have fallen following decriminalization in California.

After total decriminalization took effect in the beginning of 2001, school dropout rates are down 22 percent since 2010. DWI Marijuana arrests in California are down three percent, while the rest of the nation experienced a nine percent increase. Deaths resulting from the overdose of drugs has fallen by 20 percent compared to a national increase of four percent.

With respect to the school dropout rates, there have been constant arguments that other studies show a causal connection between increased marijuana use and kids dropping out of school. Many experts are now saying there may be other factors affecting causality in school dropout rates.

Our Los Angeles medical marijuana attorneys understand that, throughout the history of THC laws, opponents have relied upon unfounded reports and skewed data to deprive people of their rights to choose the most appropriate medical treatments for their various health conditions.

The article does not say that these numbers do consider causality and it does not mean that decriminalization of marijuana in California caused these reductions, but it does support the position that decriminalization did not lead to the many increases predicted in the many doomsday scenarios presented by those in favor of prohibition.

There is also discussion of a recent DEA report that there have been increased findings of positive tests for marijuana use in those involved in car accidents in Colorado, where marijuana has been legalized entirely. The one problem with this study, obviously not the focus of the United States Drug Enforcement Agency, is that people will test positive for the metabolites of THC long after any effects wear off. Even if there is an increase in the number of people smoking marijuana, an increase of positive test results in drivers does not mean that marijuana caused any of these accidents. It is quite possibly a false causal connection that is being touted by agencies and organizations opposed to legalization, like the DEA.

The relevancy of this article in Washington, DC is that the voters of the District have taken direct action and obtained the necessary number of signatures to have full legalization placed on the next election ballot, even though the local legislature has only gone so far as recently enacting decriminalization. The difference between decriminalization and legalization is that someone caught violating a civil infraction can be issued a fine similar to a parking ticket fine and is required to pay a fine but not charged with a crime.
If you are considering becoming involved in the medical marijuana industry in California, it is important to speak with an attorney who regularly represents clients on these matters about the facts and law pertaining to your particular situation.

The Los Angeles CANNABIS LAW Group represents growers, dispensaries, collectives, patients and those facing marijuana charges. Call us at 714-937-2050.

Additional Resources:

After California decriminalized marijuana, teen arrest, overdose and dropout rates fell, October 15, 2014, Washington Post

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Couple Arrested for Facebook Marijuana Business, October 15, 2014, Los Angeles Medical Marijuana Lawyers Blog