Another study found that decriminalizing marijuana not only significantly reduces arrests for possession in general, but also reduces racial disparities in any remaining arrests.
Researchers at the University of California, San Diego examined FBI Uniform Crime Report data for 37 states between 2000 and 2019 to determine the impact of decriminalization policies.
The research paper, published this month in the journal Social Science & Medicine, notes that “minorities often bear the brunt of the unequal application of drug laws.” “In the United States, blacks were more likely to be arrested for possession of cannabis than whites despite a similar rate of cannabis use.”
The analysis shows that decriminalization helps reduce this historically discriminatory enforcement.
The study found that “cannabis possession rates fell by more than 70 percent among adults and more than 40 percent among young adults after the decriminalization of cannabis was implemented in 11 states.” Among adults, decriminalization was associated with a roughly 17 percent reduction in racial disparity in arrest rates between blacks and whites.
Interestingly, while youth arrests decreased overall among both the white and black population after the state decriminalized marijuana, “there was no evidence of a change in racial disparity” for that age group.
The study authors also note that decriminalization “appears to be particularly beneficial for blacks, who suffer the most from the negative consequences of criminal sanctions.”
“Together, we recommend that lawmakers and public health researchers reconsider decriminalizing cannabis as an option for cannabis liberalization, particularly in states regarding the unintended consequences and implementation costs of medical and recreational legalization of cannabis,” books In the paper, which was first observed Forbes.
“Cannabis decriminalization has been associated with significant reductions in cannabis possession rates among adults and young adults and both blacks and whites…These findings suggest that cannabis decriminalization had the intended consequences of fewer arrests and may at least potentially reduce racial disparity in arrests.” among adults.”
Of course, while it makes sense for arrests to decline after cannabis possession penalties are lifted, researchers have not been able to conclusively determine why racial disparities have declined.
“It is possible that law enforcement behaviors have not changed: Blacks may still be more likely to be arrested, questioned, or searched for possession of cannabis than whites after decriminalization. But if these behaviors do not lead to arrests due to decriminalization, racial disparities in arrest rates will continue to decline,” they wrote. “It is also possible that blacks are more likely to respond to decriminalization by possessing less cannabis below the minimum criminal offense level than whites.”
A separate, recent study in a major scientific journal published by the American Medical Association (JAMA) reached a similar conclusion when researchers investigated The impact of legalization and decriminalization on racial differences in arrests.
This analysis of arrests, which focused specifically on trends related to race, compared data from 2008 to 2019. Researchers from Eastern Virginia Medical School and St. Louis University found that states legalizing cannabis saw 561 fewer arrests per 100,000 black people and 195 Fewer arrests of white people on average during that time period.
Meanwhile, decriminalization was associated with 449 fewer arrests per 100,000 blacks and 117 fewer arrests for whites.
Notably, this study also identified a difference in the effects of politics on youth. Marijuana arrest data for adolescents indicated that young people face a lower risk of being arrested under a simple criminalization than under legalization.
For those who have followed the politics of cannabis and the racist effects of the war on drugs, the results of these studies are not particularly surprising.
Even the president of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, Nora Volkow, has done it over and over again Highlight and criticize racial disparities in the application of drug criminalization.
Gamma too This year’s study published that finding That youth marijuana use does not increase after states enact legalization for medical or recreational use, challenging another prohibition narrative.
Relatedly, a federally funded survey released this month determined that young people’s marijuana use “significantly decreased” in 2021, as did teenage consumption of illegal substances in general. This is despite the fact that more government cannabis legalization laws are being enacted and implemented across the country.