Despite fear-mongering to the contrary, decriminalization of marijuana in California hasn’t led to a surge in crime, impaired driving, drug overdoses, or high school dropout rates, according to a new study. In fact, just the opposite has occurred.
The report, produced by the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice, was released in October. The researchers found that none of the direst warnings about quasi-legal cannabis have come to pass.
“Marijuana decriminalization in California has not resulted in harmful consequences for teenagers, such as increased crime, drug overdose, driving under the influence, or school dropout,” the authors wrote. “In fact, California teenagers showed improvements in all risk areas after reform.”
Any half-wit stoner could have explained this phenomenon. Pot isn’t a dangerous drug, no matter what opponents say. It just isn’t.
The scientists behind the study noted that the decline in teen dropout rates has been most significant. The dropout rate declined by 22 percent between 2010, when marijuana was decriminalized, and 2012.
Other studies suggest heavy cannabis use leads to lower school completion rates. But many scientists are skeptical of the link, saying any number of other factors could cause lower graduation rates.
The new study, which queried youths aged 15 to 19, supports that skepticism, showing instead that graduation rates aren’t declining at all – in fact, they’re growing by leaps and bounds.
The same logic holds true for other social indicators. The rate of criminal arrest plummeted by 30 percent between 2010 and 2012. Nationwide, the arrest rate fell by 19 percent in those years, a much smaller decline.
Drug arrests, meanwhile, dropped by 23 percent in California, compared with a 14 percent drop nationally. Arrests for property crimes also declined, dropping by 25 percent compared with a 14 percent drop in the rest of the country.
Surprisingly, the rate of high driving has declined, despite protestations that decriminalized weed would reap chaos on the roadways. Statewide, the DUI rate dropped by 3 percent while nationally it rose by 9 percent.
Drug overdose deaths dropped by 20 percent in California at the same time the national rate increased by 4 percent. The number of violent deaths dropped by 4 percent in California compared to 1 percent at the national level.
“By a variety of measures, California’s teenage behaviors actually improved dramatically after marijuana was effectively legalized — improvements that occurred more weakly or not at all among older Californians and among teenagers nationwide,” the authors of the study wrote.