Marijuana Legalization in Washington State: One-Year Status Report

New Report Finds Major Fiscal Benefits, Decrease in Violent Crime, No Increase in Youth Marijuana Use or Traffic Fatalities – And Massive Drop in Marijuana Arrests

Popular Support for Marijuana Legalization Remains Strong in Washington.

“As several states consider marijuana legalization initiatives, all eyes are on the initial outcomes of Washington’s marijuana law. In 2012, Washington and Colorado became the first two states to pass laws taxing and regulating marijuana. Wednesday will mark the one-year anniversary of retail marijuana sales in Washington. Adult possession of marijuana became legal on December 6, 2012, 30 days after the passage of I-502, the voter-approved initiative legalizing marijuana for adults 21 and older. A year-and-a-half later, the first retail marijuana store opened its doors on July 8, 2014.

A new report by the Drug Policy Alliance brings good news for the state and the broader marijuana legalization movement by highlighting data on public safety, youth marijuana use, and the economy before and after passage of I-502. Since adult possession of marijuana became legal eighteen months ago, the state has benefitted from a dramatic decrease in marijuana arrests and convictions, as well as increased tax revenues. During the same period, the state has experienced a decrease in violent crime rates. In addition, rates of youth marijuana use and traffic fatalities have remained stable.

“Marijuana prohibition has been a costly failure—to individuals, communities, and the entire country,” says Tamar Todd, Director of Marijuana Law and Policy at the Drug Policy Alliance. “Washington should be praised for developing a smarter, more responsible approach to marijuana.”

The report’s key findings include:

  • Filings for low-level marijuana offenses are down 98% for adults 21 and older. All categories of marijuana law violations are down 63% and marijuana-related convictions are down 81%.
  • The state is now saving millions of dollars in law enforcement resources that were previously used to enforce marijuana laws.
  • Violent crime has decreased in Washington and other crime rates have remained stable since the passage of I-502.
  • Washington has collected nearly $83 million in marijuana tax revenues. These revenues are funding substance abuse prevention and treatment programs, youth and adult drug education, community health care services, and academic research and evaluation on the effects of marijuana legalization in the state.
  • The number of traffic fatalities remained stable in the first year that adult possession was legalized.
  • Youth marijuana use has not increased since the passage of I-502.
  • Washington voters continue to support marijuana legalization. Fifty-six% continue to approve of the state’s marijuana law – about the same as when it was approved in 2012 – while only 37% oppose, a decrease of 7 points since the election of 2012.  More than three-quarters (77%) believe the law has had either a positive impact or no effect on their lives.”  CLICK THE LINK BELOW TO READ THE ENTIRE ARTICLE>>>>

Marijuana Legalization in Washington State: One-Year Status Report

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