Marijuana

States That Legally Regulate Medical and/or Adult Social Use of Marijuana

Related Chapters:
CBD (Cannabidiol)
Hemp
Marijuana Policy Reform - Decriminalization, Legalization, and Medicalization
Medical Marijuana
Driving

Looking for information on synthetic cannabinoids (e.g. "Kush," "spice," "K2," etc.)? Check our chapter on New Psychoactive Substances

Looking for specific, detailed information on cannabidiol (CBD)? In addition to the items below, check out Project CBD.

1. States That Legally Regulate Medical and/or Adult Social Use of Marijuana

As of June 25, 2019, a total of 32 states plus the District of Columbia and Guam have what are called "effective" state medical marijuana laws. These states include: Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Utah, Vermont, Washington state, and West Virginia.

As of June 25, 2019, eleven states have legalized adult (aged 21 and older) personal use of marijuana: Alaska, California, Colorado, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington state. In addition, ten of those eleven states - Vermont is the exception - legally regulate the production, distribution, and sale of marijuana. The District of Columbia has also legalized limited personal possession and cultivation of marijuana by adults aged 21 and older.

Marijuana Policy Project, "State by State Medical Marijuana Laws 2015 with a December 2016 Supplement - How to Remove the Threat of Arrest," (Washington, DC: MPP, February 2017), p. 1, last accessed September 27, 2017.
https://www.mpp.org...
West Virginia: https://www.mpp.org/states/wes...
Vermont: "Governor Phil Scott Signs H.511," Office of the Governor of Vermont, News Release, Jan. 22, 2018.
http://governor.vermont.gov/pr...
"An act relating to eliminating penalties for possession of limited amounts of marijuana by adults 21 years of age or older"
https://legislature.vermont.go...
Oklahoma: Oklahoma State Question 788, Medical Marijuana Legalization Initiative (June 2018) https://ballotpedia.org/...
Michigan, Missouri, and Utah: http://www.drugpolicy.org/pres...
Illinois: HB 1438

2. US States Which Have Legalized Marijuana

Eight states have legalized adult (aged 21 and older) personal use of marijuana and legally regulate the production, distribution, and sale of marijuana: Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington state. Additionally, the state of Vermont and the District of Columbia have legalized limited personal possession and cultivation of marijuana by adults aged 21 and older.

Marijuana Policy Project, "State by State Medical Marijuana Laws 2015 with a December 2016 Supplement - How to Remove the Threat of Arrest," (Washington, DC: MPP, February 2017), p. 1, last accessed April 28, 2017.
https://www.mpp.org...
Specifically in regard to West Virginia, see https://www.mpp.org/states/wes...
Vermont: "Governor Phil Scott Signs H.511," Office of the Governor of Vermont, News Release, Jan. 22, 2018.
http://governor.vermont.gov/pr...
"An act relating to eliminating penalties for possession of limited amounts of marijuana by adults 21 years of age or older"
https://legislature.vermont.go...

3. Marijuana is not a gateway drug

"Our results indicate a moderate relation between early teen marijuana use and young adult abuse of other illicit substances; however, this association fades from statistical significance with adjustments for stress and life-course variables. Likewise, our findings show that any causal influence of teen marijuana use on other illicit substance use is contingent upon employment status and is short-term, subsiding entirely by the age of 21. In light of these findings, we urge U.S. drug control policymakers to consider stress and life-course approaches in their pursuit of solutions to the 'drug problem.'"

Van Gundy, Karen and Rebellon, Cesar J., "Life-course Perspective on the “Gateway Hypothesis” Journal of Health and Social Behavior (Thousand Oaks, CA: American Sociological Association, September 2010), p. 244.

4. Gateway Effect

"The gateway effect, if it exists, has at least two potential and quite different sources (MacCoun, 1998). One interpretation is that it is an effect of the drug use itself (e.g., trying marijuana increases the taste for other drugs or leads users to believe that other substances are more pleasurable or less risky than previously supposed). A second interpretation stresses peer groups and social interactions. Acquiring and using marijuana regularly may lead to differentially associating with peers who have attitudes and behaviors that are prodrug generally, not only with respect to marijuana. One version of this is the possibility that those peers will include people who sell other drugs, reducing the difficulty of locating potential supplies. If the latter is the explanation, then legalization might reduce the likelihood of moving on to harder drugs compared to the current situation."

Kilmer, Beau; Caulkins, Jonathan P.; Pacula, Rosalie Liccardo; MacCoun, Robert J.; Reuter, Peter H., "Altered State? Assessing How Marijuana Legalization in California Could Influence Marijuana Consumption and Public Budgets" Drug Policy Research Center (Santa Monica, CA: RAND Corporation, 2010), p. 42.

5. Marijuana less addictive than many commonly used substances including alcohol

Is Marijuana Addictive? The best scientific data available indicate that marijuana is less potentially addictive than many other substances in common use. This should not be construed as meaning that marijuana has no potential for dependence or that it is entirely safe.

"People who develop problems with marijuana may indeed be different from those who do not, but this phenomenon has been observed with other substances of abuse. A comparison with alcohol use and dependence provides a case in point. The great majority of Americans have tried alcohol and continue to drink alcoholic beverages regularly. However, only an estimated 10 to 15 percent of alcohol drinkers develop problems, and only some of these problem drinkers seek treatment. This is also true of those who have tried cocaine or heroin (Anthony, Warner, and Kessler, 1994).

"That said, the experience of dependence on marijuana tends to be less severe than that observed with cocaine, opiates, and alcohol (Budney, 2006; Budney et al., 1998). On average, individuals with marijuana dependence meet fewer DSM dependence criteria; the withdrawal experience is not as dramatic; and the severity of the associated consequences is not as extreme. However, the apparently less severe nature of marijuana dependence does not necessarily mean that marijuana addiction is easier to overcome. Many factors besides a drug’s physiological effects -- including availability, frequency and pattern of use, perception of harm, and cost -- can contribute to cessation outcomes and the strength of addiction. The low cost of marijuana, the typical pattern of multiple daily use by those addicted, the less dramatic consequences, and ambivalence may increase the difficulty of quitting. Although determining the relative difficulty of quitting various substances of abuse is complex, the treatment literature reviewed here suggests that the experience of marijuana abusers rivals that of those addicted to other substances."

Budney A, Roffman R, Stephens R, Walker D. Marijuana dependence and its treatment. Addiction Science and Clinical Practice. 2007;4(1):4–16.
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov...
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov...

6. How Dangerous is Marijuana?

"Tetrahydrocannabinol is a very safe drug. Laboratory animals (rats, mice, dogs, monkeys) can tolerate doses of up to 1,000 mg/kg (milligrams per kilogram). This would be equivalent to a 70 kg person swallowing 70 grams of the drug—about 5,000 times more than is required to produce a high. Despite the widespread illicit use of cannabis there are very few if any instances of people dying from an overdose. In Britain, official government statistics listed five deaths from cannabis in the period 1993-1995 but on closer examination these proved to have been deaths due to inhalation of vomit that could not be directly attributed to cannabis (House of Lords Report, 1998). By comparison with other commonly used recreational drugs these statistics are impressive."

Iversen, Leslie L., PhD, FRS, "The Science of Marijuana" (London, England: Oxford University Press, 2000), p. 178, citing House of Lords, Select Committee on Science and Technology, "Cannabis -- The Scientific and Medical Evidence" (London, England: The Stationery Office, Parliament, 1998).

7. Public Health Impact of Marijuana Compared With Other Drugs

"The public health burden of cannabis use is probably modest compared with that of alcohol, tobacco, and other illicit drugs. A recent Australian study96 estimated that cannabis use caused 0·2% of total disease burden in Australia—a country with one of the highest reported rates of cannabis use. Cannabis accounted for 10% of the burden attributable to all illicit drugs (including heroin, cocaine, and amphetamines). It also accounted for around 10% of the proportion of disease burden attributed to alcohol (2·3%), but only 2·5% of that attributable to tobacco (7·8%)."

Hall, Wayne and Degenhardt, Louise, "Adverse health effects of non-medical cannabis use," The Lancet (London, United Kingdom: October 17, 2009) Vol. 374, p. 1389.

8. When Did Federal Marijuana Prohibition Begin?

"Marijuana essentially became illegal in 1937 pursuant to the Marijuana Tax Act.39 The use of marijuana required the payment of a tax for usage; failure to pay the tax resulted in a large fine or stiff prison time for tax evasion.40 Drug prohibition was elevated to another level by targeting 'marijuana,' a plant that had never demonstrated any harm to anyone.41
"Anslinger’s [Harry J. Anslinger, the first Commissioner of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics] efforts to eradicate marijuana continued when Anslinger sought similar anti-narcotic laws against marijuana at the state level.42 Guided by Anslinger’s policy direction, states began passing their own laws or adopting more strident versions of federal laws.43 By 1952, nearly all states had anti-narcotic laws in place.44"

Gilmore, Brian, "Again and Again We Suffer: the Poor and the Endurance of the 'War on Drugs,'" University of the District of Columbia Law Review (Washington, DC: The University of the District of Columbia David A. Clarke School of Law, 2011) Volume 15, Number 1, p. 64.

9. Hemp

"Industrial hemp can be grown as a fiber, seed, or dual-purpose crop.15 The interior of the stalk has short woody fibers called hurds; the outer portion has long bast fibers. Hemp seed/grains are smooth and about one-eighth to one-fourth of an inch long.16
"Although hemp is not grown in the United States, both finished hemp products and raw material inputs are imported and sold for use in manufacturing for a wide range of product categories (Figure 1). Hemp fibers are used in a wide range of products, including fabrics and textiles, yarns and spun fibers, paper, carpeting, home furnishings, construction and insulation materials, auto parts, and composites. Hurds are used in various applications such as animal bedding, material inputs, papermaking, and composites. Hemp seed and oilcake are used in a range of foods and beverages, and can be an alternative food protein source. Oil from the crushed hemp seed is used as an ingredient in a range of body-care products and nutritional supplements.17 Hemp seed is also used for industrial oils, cosmetics and personal care products, and pharmaceuticals, among other composites."

Johnson, Renée, "Hemp As An Agricultural Commodity," Congressional Research Service (Washington, DC: Library of Congress, July 24, 2013), p. 4.

10. What the research shows about marijuana and driving

"Several meta-analyses of multiple studies found that the risk of being involved in a crash significantly increased after marijuana use13 -- in a few cases, the risk doubled or more than doubled.14-16 However, a large case-control study conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found no significant increased crash risk attributable to cannabis after controlling for drivers’ age, gender, race, and presence of alcohol.17"

"Marijuana," National Institute on Drug Abuse, January 2017, last accessed March 5, 2017, p. 13.
1380-marijuana.pdf
https://www.drugabuse.gov...

11. Marijuana and Driving

"This study of crash risk found a statistically significant increase in unadjusted crash risk for drivers who tested positive for use of illegal drugs (1.21 times), and THC specifically (1.25 times). However, analyses incorporating adjustments for age, gender, ethnicity, and alcohol concentration level did not show a significant increase in levels of crash risk associated with the presence of drugs. This finding indicates that these other variables (age, gender, ethnicity and alcohol use) were highly correlated with drug use and account for much of the increased risk associated with the use of illegal drugs and with THC.

"This study found a statistically significant association between driver alcohol level and crash risk both before and after adjustment for demographic factors. These findings were generally consistent with similar analyses conducted in prior crash risk studies. Findings from this study indicate that crash risk grows exponentially with increasing BrAC. The study shows that at low levels of alcohol (e.g., 0.03 BrAC) the risk of crashing is increased by 20 percent, at moderate alcohol levels (0.05 BrAC) risk increases to double that of sober drivers, and at a higher level (0.10 BrAC) the risk increases to five and a half times. At a BrAC of 0.15, the risk is 12 times, and by BrACs of 0.20+ the risk is over 23 times higher."

Compton, R. P. & Berning, A. (2015, February). Drug and alcohol crash risk. (Traffic Safety Facts Research Note, Report No. DOT HS 812 117). Washington, DC: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, p. 8.
http://www.nhtsa.gov...
http://www.nhtsa.gov...

12. Do people in the US still get arrested for simple possession of marijuana?

Although the intent of a 'War on Drugs' may have been to target drug smugglers and 'King Pins,' according to the FBI's annual Uniform Crime Reports, of the 1,488,707 arrests for drug law violations in 2015, 83.9% (1,249,025) were for mere possession of a controlled substance. Only 16.1% (239,682) were for the sale or manufacturing of a drug. Further, the majority (43.2%) of drug arrests in 2015 were for marijuana -- a total of 643,121. Of those, an estimated 574,641 arrests (38.6% of all drug arrests) were for marijuana possession alone. By contrast in 2000, a total of 734,497 Americans were arrested for marijuana offenses, of which 646,042 (40.9%) were for possession alone.

"Crime in the United States 2015 - Arrests," FBI Uniform Crime Report (Washington, DC: US Dept. of Justice, September 2015), p. 1, and Arrest Table: Arrests for Drug Abuse Violations.
https://ucr.fbi.gov/crime-in-t...
https://ucr.fbi.gov/crime-in-t...
https://ucr.fbi.gov/crime-in-t...
https://ucr.fbi.gov/crime-in-t...
https://ucr.fbi.gov/crime-in-t...

13. Cost Of Marijuana Arrests

"The costs of this national obsession, in both money and time, are astonishing. Each year, enforcing laws on possession costs more than $3.6 billion, according to the American Civil Liberties Union. It can take a police officer many hours to arrest and book a suspect. That person will often spend a night or more in the local jail, and be in court multiple times to resolve the case. The public-safety payoff for all this effort is meager at best: According to a 2012 Human Rights Watch report that tracked 30,000 New Yorkers with no prior convictions when they were arrested for marijuana possession, 90 percent had no subsequent felony convictions. Only 3.1 percent committed a violent offense."
* Important here to note that New York is a decriminalized state, that is, personal possession of less than 25 grams of marijuana by an adult is supposedly decriminalized.

New York Times, "The Injustice of Marijuana Arrests," By Jesse Wegman, July 28, 2014.
http://www.nytimes.com...

14. Racism and The History Of Marijuana Prohibition

"The law enforcement view of marijuana was indelibly shaped by the fact that it was initially connected to brown people from Mexico and subsequently with black and poor communities in this country. Police in Texas border towns demonized the plant in racial terms as the drug of 'immoral' populations who were promptly labeled 'fiends.'

"As the legal scholars Richard Bonnie and Charles Whitebread explain in their authoritative history, 'The Marihuana Conviction,' the drug’s popularity among minorities and other groups practically ensured that it would be classified as a 'narcotic,' attributed with addictive qualities it did not have, and set alongside far more dangerous drugs like heroin and morphine.

"By the early 1930s, more than 30 states had prohibited the use of marijuana for nonmedical purposes. The federal push was yet to come.

"The stage for federal suppression of marijuana was set in New Orleans, where a prominent doctor blamed 'muggle-heads' — as pot smokers were called — for an outbreak of robberies. The city was awash in sensationalistic newspaper articles that depicted pushers hovering by the schoolhouse door turning children into 'addicts.' These stories popularized spurious notions about the drug that lingered for decades. Law enforcement officials, too, trafficked in the 'assassin' theory, under in which killers were said to have smoked cannabis to ready themselves for murder and mayhem."

The New York Times, "The Federal Marijuana Ban Is Rooted in Myth and Xenophobia," by Brent Staples, July 29, 2014.
http://www.nytimes.com...

15. The NY Times On Marijuana Prohibition And Racism

"It was not until 1951, when Congress again took up the issue, that a reputable researcher was called to testify. Dr. Harris Isbell, director of research at the Public Health Service Hospital in Lexington, Ky., disputed the insanity, crime and addiction theories, telling Congress that 'smoking marijuana has no unpleasant aftereffects, no dependence is developed on the drug, and the practice can easily be stopped at any time.'
"Despite Dr. Isbell’s testimony, Congress ratcheted up penalties on users. The states followed the federal example; Louisiana, for instance, created sentences ranging from five to 99 years, without parole or probation, for sale, possession or administration of narcotic drugs. The rationale was not that marijuana itself was addictive — that argument was suddenly relinquished — but that it was a 'steppingstone' to heroin addiction. This passed largely without comment at the time.
"The country accepted a senselessly punitive approach to sentencing as long as minorities and the poor paid the price. But, by the late 1960s, weed had been taken up by white college students from the middle and upper classes. Seeing white lives ruined by marijuana laws altered public attitudes about harsh sentencing, and, in 1972, the National Commission on Marihuana and Drug Abuse released a report challenging the approach."

The New York Times, "The Federal Marijuana Ban Is Rooted in Myth and Xenophobia," by Brent Staples, July 29, 2014.
http://www.nytimes.com...

16. The NY Times On Marijuana And Substance Use Treatment

The Times misses part of the story when they write:
"Nearly 70 percent of the teenagers in residential substance-abuse programs run by Phoenix House, which operates drug and alcohol treatment centers in 10 states, listed marijuana as their primary problem."
http://www.nytimes.com...

Indeed. However, the majority of treatment referrals for marijuana were directly through the criminal justice system or at least in anticipation of going through the criminal justice system. Treatment alternatives to incarceration and drug courts can be effective means of dealing with drug using offenders yet they sometimes cherry-pick people to be referred to treatment, choosing those with the greatest probability of success. People who do not use drugs problematically are the most likely to succeed in drug treatment, since they didn't have a problem in the first place:
"Additional results reveal that, in practice, large numbers of drug courts are admitting offenders who are abusing alcohol and marijuana, but may not be clinically dependent or abusing more serious drugs. Consistent with the number of courts admitting individuals with lower levels of substance use and the number admitting individuals with DWI/DUI offenses, 65.6 percent of courts reported that a participant can be admitted into drug court for alcohol abuse only. An even larger percentage of courts (87.7 percent) indicated that participants can enter drug court for marijuana abuse only. Allowing participants into drug court based on alcohol abuse only did not vary by type of geographic area; however, allowing participants into drug court based on marijuana abuse only did vary geographically (X2=10.2, p<.01). The majority of courts that do not accept participants into drug court based only on marijuana abuse are located in urban areas (62.2 percent), suggesting they may have a greater focus on more serious drug problems."
Source: Rossman, Shelli B., et al., "Final Report, Volume 2: The Multi-Site Adult Drug Court Evaluation: What's Happening with Drug Courts? A Portrait of Adult Drug Courts 2004" (Washington, DC: Urban Institute, June 2011), p. 27.

According to the federal Treatment Episode Data Set, in 2011 there were 333,578 admissions to treatment with marijuana reported as the primary substance of abuse out of the total 1,844,719 admissions for all substances that year.
According to the TEDS report:
"• Marijuana was reported as the primary substance of abuse by 18 percent of TEDS admissions aged 12 and older in 2011 [Table 1.1b].
"• The average age at admission for primary marijuana admissions was 24 years [Table 2.1a], although the peak age at admission for both genders in all race/ethnicities was 15 to 17 years [Figure 12]. Forty percent of marijuana admissions were under age 20 (vs. 11 percent of all admissions), and primary marijuana abuse accounted for 74 percent of all admissions aged 12 to 14 years and 76 percent of admissions aged 15 to 17 years [Tables 2.1a-b].
"• Non-Hispanic Whites accounted for 45 percent of primary marijuana admissions (32 percent males and 13 percent females), and non-Hispanic Black males accounted for 24 percent [Table 2.3a].
"• Twenty-five percent of primary marijuana admissions had first used marijuana by age 12 and another 32 percent by age 14 [Table 2.5].
"• Primary marijuana admissions were less likely than all admissions combined to be self- or individually referred to treatment (16 percent vs. 35 percent). Primary marijuana admissions were most likely to be referred by a criminal justice/DUI source (52 percent) [Table 2.6].
"• More than 4 in 5 marijuana admissions (85 percent) received ambulatory treatment compared with about 3 in 5 of all admissions combined (62 percent) [Table 2.7].
"• Fifty-six percent of primary marijuana admissions reported abuse of additional substances. Alcohol was reported by 41 percent [Table 3.8]."
Source: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality. Treatment Episode Data Set (TEDS): 2001-2011. National Admissions to Substance Abuse Treatment Services. BHSIS Series S-65, HHS Publication No. (SMA) 13-4772. Rockville, MD: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 2013, p. 19; and p. 43, Table 1.1a.

The New York Times, "What Science Says About Marijuana," by Philip M. Boffey, July 30, 2014.
http://www.nytimes.com...
Rossman, Shelli B., et al., "Final Report, Volume 2: The Multi-Site Adult Drug Court Evaluation: What's Happening with Drug Courts? A Portrait of Adult Drug Courts 2004" (Washington, DC: Urban Institute, June 2011), p. 27.
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality. Treatment Episode Data Set (TEDS): 2001-2011. National Admissions to Substance Abuse Treatment Services. BHSIS Series S-65, HHS Publication No. (SMA) 13-4772. Rockville, MD: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 2013, p. 19; and p. 43, Table 1.1a.

17. The NY Times On Marijuana And Emergency Department Admissions

The Times misses part of the story when they write:
"Marijuana was found -- alone or in combination with other drugs -- in more than 455,000 patients visiting emergency rooms in 2011."
http://www.nytimes.com...

A drug mention does not mean that the drug is what caused the visit. Rather, it simply means that the substance was in their system. Arguably, drug mentions in an emergency room may have some meaning yet unless the drug is at fault, those mentions are merely an indicator of prevalence of use:
"DAWN captures drugs that are explicitly named in the medical record as being involved in the ED visit. The relationship between the ED visit and the drug use need not be causal. That is, an implicated drug may or may not have directly caused the condition generating the ED visit; the ED staff simply named it as being involved." (p. 15)

According to the DAWN report, "Of the approximately 2.5 million drug misuse or abuse ED visits that occurred during 2011, a total of 1,252,500, or just over half (50.9%), involved illicit drugs (Table 4). A majority (56.3%) of illicit drug ED visits involved multiple drugs. Overall, 27.9 percent of visits involving illicit drugs also involved alcohol.
"Cocaine and marijuana were the most commonly involved drugs, with 505,224 ED visits (40.3%) and 455,668 ED visits (36.4%), respectively. Cocaine and marijuana were followed by heroin, at 258,482 ED visits, or 20.6 percent, and then by amphetamines/methamphetamine, at 159,840 visits, or 12.8 percent." (DAWN ED Report 2011, p. 25)

The New York Times, "What Science Says About Marijuana," by Philip M. Boffey, July 30, 2014.
http://www.nytimes.com...
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Drug Abuse Warning Network, 2011: National Estimates of Drug-Related Emergency Department Visits. HHS Publication No. (SMA) 13-4760, DAWN Series D-39. Rockville, MD: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 2013, p. 25 and p. 15.

18. Marijuana Arrests in Washington State Following Legalization

"Preliminary look at racial disparities in select counties of Washington

"The Crime, Cannabis & Police Research Group at Washington State University used preliminary data from a Department of Justice funded study to compare white vs. Black arrests.11 Latinos were not included in the analysis, because of difficulties measuring ethnicity in arrest data. Their main preliminary findings are that after legalization in Washington, African Americans/Blacks continue to be disproportionally arrested for the possession and selling of marijuana when compared to whites. Though the disparity in marijuana possession between African American/Blacks and whites was reduced slightly after legalization, the disparity for selling marijuana has more than doubled since legalization.

"Local trends

"While statewide studies have the ability to control for individual law enforcement agencies or police departments, monitoring trends in marijuana-related crimes within a local police department can provide details of violations that statewide data systems do not. For example, violations for public consumption of marijuana cannot be directly queried from state-derived data; however, local law enforcement agencies and municipal courts maintain details on the nature of the crime that would indicate whether someone was ticketed for public consumption vs. possession or a different drug-related charge. One example of the potential of local data to explore issues of criminal justice can be made using data from the Seattle Police Department (SPD). A 2015 report for the Seattle Community Police Commission showed a disproportionate number of citations for marijuana public consumption issued to African Americans/Blacks in Seattle.12 Using local police department data is key to understanding differences in the implementation and enforcement of polices pertaining to the legalization of marijuana."

Firth C. Marijuana Legalization in Washington State: Monitoring the Impact on Racial Disparities in Criminal Justice. Alcohol & Drug Abuse Institute, University of Washington, June 2018.
http://adai.uw.edu/pubs/pdf/20...

19. Racial Disparities in Marijuana Arrests in Colorado and Oregon Following Legalization

"Compelling evidence in other states suggest racial disparities persist or have become worse after legalization and the opening of a licensed marijuana market, even while total marijuana-related criminal justice incidents have decreased.

"In Colorado, marijuana court filings decreased by 85% from 2010 to 2014 after legalizing marijuana in 2012. During the same time frame the rate of arrests for marijuana possession among African Americans/Blacks remained 2.4 times higher compared to the arrest rate for whites. The disparities for African American/Blacks were even larger for arrests for marijuana cultivation (2.5 times the arrest rate for whites) and distribution of marijuana (5.4 times the arrest rate for whites).13

"Results from Oregon are consistent with findings in Colorado. The Oregon Public Health Division examined changes in the age-adjusted rates of marijuana arrests by racial groups.14 The age adjusted rate of marijuana arrests for African Americans/Blacks was 2 to 3 times the rate of whites during 2010–2014. Oregon legalized marijuana in 2014 and in the following year the disparity between African Americans/Blacks and whites persisted. Specifically, the rate of arrest was 77% higher among African Americans/Blacks in 2015 when compared to whites.

"Preliminary results suggest that legalization of marijuana for adults has greatly reduced the number of people arrested and convicted for marijuana-related crimes, yet racial disparities persist in Washington and in other states. Other factors may contribute to sustaining the racial disparities, such as over-policing in low-income neighborhoods, racial profiling, and other racially biased police practices. 15 These inequitable practices may minimize the potential positive impacts of I-502 and marijuana legalization on all communities."

Firth C. Marijuana Legalization in Washington State: Monitoring the Impact on Racial Disparities in Criminal Justice. Alcohol & Drug Abuse Institute, University of Washington, June 2018.
http://adai.uw.edu/pubs/pdf/20...

20. Impact of Marijuana Legalization on the State of Washington

"In these initial investigations, we found no evidence that I-502 enactment, on the whole, affected cannabis abuse treatment admissions. Further, within Washington State, we found no evidence that the amount of legal cannabis sales affected cannabis abuse treatment admissions.

"The bulk of outcome analyses in this report used the within-state approach to focus on identifying effects of the amount of legal cannabis sales. We found no evidence that the amount of legal cannabis sales affected youth substance use or attitudes about cannabis or drug-related criminal convictions.

"We did find evidence that higher levels of retail cannabis sales affected adult cannabis use in certain subgroups of the population. BRFSS respondents 21 and older who lived in counties with higher levels of retail cannabis sales were more likely to report using cannabis in the past 30 days and heavy use of cannabis in the past 30 days.

"We also found two effects that are difficult to interpret. Among the portion of the population aged 18 to 21, BRFSS respondents living in counties with higher sales were less likely to report using cannabis in the past 30 days, in some analyses. It may be that legal cannabis sales have made cannabis more difficult to access by persons below the legal age, for instance, by reducing black market supply through competition.

"We also found that in the portion of the BRFSS sample who smoked cigarettes, respondents living in counties with higher levels of legal cannabis sales were less likely to report past-month cannabis use. It is particularly difficult to explain why increased sales would lead to lower cannabis use among cigarette smokers."

Darnell, A.J. & Bitney, K. (2017). I-502 evaluation and benefit-cost analysis: Second
required report. (Document Number 17-09-3201). Olympia: Washington State Institute for Public Policy.
https://www.wsipp.wa.gov/Repor...

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