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Legalization Has Been A 'Good News' Story In Colorado, Washington And Oregon

A new report from the Drug Policy Alliance suggests that states with legal marijuana are reaping the benefits.

The report – released just under a month before the U.S. election – found that states where marijuana has already been legalized have seen a major drop in marijuana arrests, zero increase in youth marijuana use or traffic fatalities and massive fiscal gains.

The preliminary data from legal states “brings good news”, says Drug Policy Alliance staff attorney Joy Haviland in a release.

The report says that statewide surveys of youth in Colorado, Washington, Alaska and Oregon found that there were “no significant increases in youth marijuana use post-legalization.” It also found that tax revenues in Colorado, Washington, and Oregon have all “exceeded initial revenue estimates, totaling half a billion dollars in new revenue for those states.”

Moreover, traffic fatality rates have stayed stable in Colorado, Washington, Alaska and Oregon, and (perhaps unsurprisingly) marijuana-related arrests have plummeted in all legal states.

The one thing legalization hasn’t abated, however, is the disproportionate enforcement of marijuana laws against black people. Despite the fact that white people use and sell marijuana at similar rates to black people, black people are still arrested at hugely disproportionate rates.

“By shifting away from counterproductive marijuana arrests and focusing instead on public health,” said Haviland, “states that have legalized marijuana are diminishing many of the worst harms of the war on drugs, while managing to raise substantial new revenue for their state.”

Banner image: Susan Montgomery /


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