One other examine has discovered that decriminalizing marijuana not solely considerably decreases arrests for possession total however that it additionally reduces racial disparities in any remaining arrests.
Researchers on the College of California, San Diego examined FBI Uniform Crime Report knowledge for 37 states between 2000 and 2019 to find out the impression of decriminalization insurance policies.
“Minorities usually bear the brunt of unequal enforcement of drug legal guidelines,” the paper, which was printed this month within the journal Social Science & Medication,” notes. “Within the U.S., Blacks have been disproportionately extra more likely to be arrested for hashish possession than Whites regardless of the same fee of hashish use.”
The evaluation reveals that decriminalization helps to scale back that traditionally discriminatory enforcement.
“Hashish possession arrest charges declined over 70 % amongst adults and over 40 % amongst youths after the implementation of hashish decriminalization in 11 states,” the examine discovered. “Amongst adults, decriminalization was related to a roughly 17 % lower in racial disparity in arrest charges between Blacks and Whites.”
Apparently, whereas arrests for younger folks total declined amongst each white and black populations after a state decriminalized marijuana, “there was no proof for a change in racial disparity” for that age group.
The examine authors additionally famous that decriminalization “appeared to be significantly helpful to Blacks, who have been struggling probably the most from the adversarial penalties of legal penalties.”
“Taken collectively, we advocate that lawmakers and public well being researchers rethink hashish decriminalization as an choice of hashish liberalization, significantly in states in regards to the unintended penalties and implementation prices of medical and leisure hashish legalization,” they wrote within the paper, which was first famous by Forbes.
“Hashish decriminalization was related to considerably decrease hashish possession arrest charges amongst each adults and youths and amongst each Blacks and Whites… These findings advised that hashish decriminalization had its supposed consequence of decreasing arrests and should have potential to scale back racial disparity in arrests a minimum of amongst adults.”
After all, whereas it is smart that arrests would decline after penalties for hashish possession are lifted, the researchers couldn’t say definitively why racial disparities declined too.
“It’s doable that regulation enforcement behaviors didn’t change: Blacks would possibly nonetheless be extra more likely to be stopped, questioned, or looked for hashish possession than Whites after decriminalization. But when these behaviors didn’t lead to arrests due to decriminalization, racial disparity in arrest charges would nonetheless decline,” they wrote. “It’s also doable that Blacks have been extra seemingly to reply to decriminalization by possessing much less hashish beneath the edge quantity for the bottom degree of legal offense in comparison with Whites.”
A separate latest examine in a significant scientific journal printed by the American Medical Affiliation (JAMA) reached the same conclusion when researchers investigated the impact of legalization and decriminalization on racial disparities in arrests.
That evaluation of arrests, which particularly targeted on developments associated to race, in contrast knowledge from 2008 to 2019. The researchers from Jap Virginia Medical Faculty and Saint Louis College discovered that states that legalized hashish noticed 561 fewer arrests per 100,000 black folks and 195 fewer arrests for white folks on common over that point interval.
Decriminalization, in the meantime, was related to roughly 449 fewer arrests per 100,000 black folks and a drop of 117 for white folks.
Notably, that examine additionally recognized a distinction in coverage impacts for youth. Marijuana arrest knowledge on adolescents indicated that younger folks confronted a decrease danger of being arrested beneath easy decriminalization as in comparison with legalization.
For individuals who’ve adopted hashish coverage and the racist impacts of the conflict on medicine, the findings from these research aren’t particularly shocking.
Even the pinnacle of the Nationwide Institute on Drug Abuse, Nora Volkow, has repeatedly highlighted and criticized the racial disparities in drug criminalization enforcement.
JAMA additionally published a study this year that finding that youth marijuana use doesn’t improve after states enact legalization for medical or leisure use, difficult one other prohibitionist narrative.
Relatedly, a federally funded survey that was launched this month decided that youth marijuana use “decreased considerably” in 2021, as did teen consumption of illicit substances total. That’s even supposing extra state hashish legalization legal guidelines are being enacted and applied throughout the nation.
Photograph courtesy of Brian Shamblen.