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.”