Drug Policy Alliance Issues Report Analyzing Impact of Legal Marijuana

Question 4 is supported by real evidence. A new report by the Drug Policy Alliance examines the impact of marijuana legalization on the jurisdictions that have passed ballot measures to legalize the drug: Colorado, Washington, Alaska, Oregon and Washington D.C. The consensus is clear—so far, so good.

Since the possession of marijuana became legal, these jurisdictions have enjoyed a considerable increase in tax revenue. Colorado, Washington and Oregon surpassed all initial expectations of revenue, generating $552 million collectively. Meanwhile, marijuana arrest rates have plummeted, saving thousands of innocent people from the harmful experience of jail time or a tainted permanent record for using a drug that is safer than alcohol. Additionally, taxpayers were spared the enormous cost of resources required for the administration of marijuana laws.

“Marijuana prohibition has been a costly failure—to individuals, communities, and the entire country,� says Joy Haviland, staff attorney at the Drug Policy Alliance.“States that have chosen to legalize marijuana under state law should be praised for developing a smarter, more responsible approach to marijuana.�

Despite the decrease in law enforcement measure, these jurisdictions have established a responsible approach to marijuana use. Statewide surveys prove that youth marijuana use and traffic fatality rates have stabilized. However, there is still work to be done as arrest rates continue to highlight the disproportionate enforcement of drug crimes against communities of color.

The statistics speak for the racial injustice that defines the “War on Drugs.� Although marijuana use is equal across racial groups, people of color are significantly more likely to be arrested than white people. Meanwhile, the government continues to spend billions of tax dollars a year to enforce marijuana laws, imprison offenders and reinforce racial division. The legalization of marijuana is an imperative step towards progress as our nation plummets further into debt and racial division.

Haviland agrees: “By shifting away from counterproductive marijuana arrests and focusing instead on public health, states that have legalized marijuana are better positioned to address the potential harms of marijuana use, while also diminishing many of the worst harms of the war on drugs.�

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