Study: States Decriminalizing Marijuana Doesn’t Increase Youth Usage Rates, Decreases Drug-Related Arrests by 75%

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Study: States Decriminalizing Marijuana Doesn’t Increase Youth Usage Rates, Decreases Drug-Related Arrests by 75%

In a study of five states that have decriminalized marijuana, it was found that decriminalization did not increase usage rates among children in any state, and it led to a massive decrease in drug arrests.

“A number of public health professional organizations support the decriminalization of cannabis due to adverse effects of cannabis-related arrests and legal consequences, particularly on youth”, begins the abstract of the study, published by the  International Journal of Drug Policy. “We sought to examine the associations between cannabis decriminalization and both arrests and youth cannabis use in five states that passed decriminalization measures between the years 2008 and 2014: Massachusetts (decriminalized in 2008), Connecticut (2011), Rhode Island (2013), Vermont (2013), and Maryland (2014).”

Data on cannabis possession arrests were obtained from federal crime statistics; data on cannabis use were obtained from state Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) surveys, years 2007-2015. Using a “difference in difference” regression framework, researchers “contrasted trends in decriminalization states with those from states that did not adopt major policy changes during the observation period.”

According to the study, decriminalization was associated with a 75% reduction in the rate of drug-related arrests for youth with similar effects observed for adult arrests. Decriminalization was “not associated with any increase in the past-30 day prevalence of cannabis use overall or in any of the individual decriminalization states.”

The study concludes by stating that; “Decriminalization of cannabis in Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Maryland resulted in large decreases in cannabis possession arrests for both youth and adults, suggesting that the policy change had its intended consequence. Our analysis did not find any increase in the prevalence of youth cannabis use during the observation period.”

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The full study, conducted by researchers at the Washington University School of Medicine, The Ohio State University, the University of Illinois and Eastern Virginia Medical School, can be found by clicking here.


  • Paul Pot
    July 26, 2018

    The reforms were a long incremental process starting with either decrim or medical use. The studies should go back to earliest reforms.

  • Jonna Lundqvist
    August 10, 2018

    It is indeed a good choice to legalized marijuana. We’ll be seeing number of its positive impact. But positive and negative things always come together. So I do expect there would be problems at some point. Let’s just stay and focus on the good side.

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