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Cannabis in California Serves as a Template for the Nation

17 years ago California became the first state to legalize medical marijuana, though there were many warnings of negative consequences.

A rise in drug use. A rise in crime. Disorder. Chaos. These were the warnings given about legalization.

State FlagBut nearly two decades later there are no real problems from legalization in California.

To the contrary, actually. With MMJ so readily available, studies found that marijuana as a substitute for alcohol was popular with teens. In fact, every state that has legalized medical marijuana has seen the same thing, and though driving under any influence is illegal, driving after smoking marijuana is safer than after consumption of alcohol.

But then what of the cries of soaring crime rates? Surely dispensaries would become a major target and the areas around them would see a rise in criminal activity?

Again, no. The only struggle was in Los Angeles, where they had initial difficulties regulating the myriad of dispensaries. Instead of dispensaries serving as hotbeds for crime, most communities have not seen a single difference from the addition of pot shops.

California is no longer the lone state of smoke, though. Nearly half of the U.S. has decriminalized marijuana or legalized medical marijuana, and as more states find similar results the arguments for legalization only grow stronger.

California set the trail, and the rest of the country appears willing to follow.

About Matt Brooks

Based in San Francisco, Matt is a journalist who has specialized in marijuana policy for more than five years. He provides regular news coverage on marijuanaandthelaw.com and californiamarijuanamarket.com.

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