The paper’s authors stated they sought to answer 3 concerns in these evaluation of state-level information: 1) How does legalization effect law enforcement sources in legal states? two) How does it effect these sources in bordering, non-legal states? and three) What does legalizing cannabis imply for drug trafficking?
To assess the effect, 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 lead to the sky to fall.
“Legalizing marijuana did not have a noticeable effect on indicators in states that bordered these that legalized,” the study concluded, adding that “there had 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 discovering that the Justice Division does not want the public to assume it endorses. At the starting of the report—and on every single other page—there’s a disclaimer stressing that whilst federal funds had been utilised to assistance the analysis, “[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 soon after the state legalized cannabis in 2012. These arrests continued to drop soon after retails sales became accessible. Distribution arrests followed a comparable trend.
There was significantly less information on Oregon at the time of the study in 2015, as the state legalized the earlier year. Nevertheless, the statistics showed that through “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. When cannabis accounted for the vast majority of drug possession arrests in Oklahoma, exactly where cannabis is nevertheless prohibited for adult use, the arrest price dipped marginally through 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 tiny spike in 2013.
Arrests for possession “increased from 2003 to 2008, but did not modify significantly from 2009 to 2013 (except for a slight improve in 2012)” in Nebraska.
The findings from Nebraska and Oklahoma are especially notable due to the fact these two states sued Colorado more than its marijuana legalization law in 2014, alleging that it properly 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 effect their neighbor’s legalization law had across their borders.
“No noticeable modify in the trend line for marijuana occurred soon after recreational use was legalized in Colorado,” the study authors stated of information on possession convictions in Kansas from 2011 to 2014.
Ultimately, the researchers looked at drug trafficking trends in Idaho, exactly where cannabis is not legal, and Washington state.
Trafficking arrests truly enhanced drastically in 2012 and 2013, but at the identical time, the quantity of situations that had 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 concerns 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 enhanced availability in larger potency THC merchandise has mitigated the influence of Mexican drug cartels. Nevertheless, Oregon respondents “reported that Russian and Afghani groups who steal crops and money from regional growers are now heavily involved in drug trafficking.”
Just 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 whilst law enforcement sources voiced several issues, quite a few “indicated that methamphetamine and heroin had been significantly bigger challenges for their agencies than was marijuana.”
The group “saw no proof that marijuana legalization had an effect on indicators in border states,” adding that they “found no indications of increases in arrests associated to transportation/trafficking offenses.”
“Again, it is achievable that various indicators, examined more than a longer period of time, could reveal impacts of marijuana legalization on drug trafficking,” they wrote.
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Photo courtesy of Kimberly Lawson.