A new study has found that cannabis decriminalization causes a reduction in arrests for possession as well as decreases racial disparities in other arrests. The University of California-San Diego researchers who conducted the study obtained data from the FBI Uniform Crime Report for their research.
The researchers assessed data from 37 states, which was collected between 2000 and 2019, to determine the impact of policies to decriminalize the herb. In their paper, the researchers stated that minorities often bore the burden of the unequal enforcement of laws on drugs, explaining that in the United States, Blacks were more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession in comparison to White people, despite having a similar rate of marijuana use.
The researchers’ analysis showed that decriminalization helped decrease this discriminatory enforcement of the law. The researchers noted in their report that after the implementation of marijuana decriminalization in 11 states, rates of arrest for marijuana possession dropped by more than 40% among youths and more than 70% among adults.
However, the researchers found no evidence suggesting a change in racial disparity among young people, despite the decline in the rate of arrest among both Black and White populations after a state decriminalized cannabis. In their report, they also noted that decriminalization was especially beneficial to Blacks, who had suffered most due to the consequences of the criminal penalties imposed by drug laws.
They also recommended that public health researchers and legislators reconsider marijuana decriminalization as an option of marijuana liberalization, especially in states concerned about the unplanned consequences and implementation costs of recreational and medical marijuana legalization. The findings were published in the “Social Science & Medicine” journal.
Separate research published by the American Medical Association showed findings that were similar to the study, after researchers looked into the impact of decriminalization and legalization of marijuana on racial disparities in arrests. That study was carried out by researchers from Saint Louis University and Eastern Virginia Medical School.
The researchers focused on trends related to race, comparing arrest data from 2008 to 2019. This group discovered that states which legalized marijuana saw 560 less arrests per 100,000 Black individuals and almost 200 fewer arrests for Caucasian individuals on average during that period. Decriminalization was also linked to less arrests for both Caucasian and Black individuals.
In addition to this, the study found a difference in how the policies impacted the youth, with cannabis arrest data on adolescents showing that young individuals had a lower risk of being arrested under decriminalization, in comparison with under legalization.
It is noteworthy to mention that when cannabis is fully legalized and entities such as Flora Growth Corp. (NASDAQ: FLGC) are allowed to operate, more benefits, including the creation of high-paying jobs, accrue to society over and above the reduction in racially inspired arrests.
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