by Mark Thornton, Mises Institute
Legal recreational marijuana use in the state of Washington is now two-and-a-half-years old and retail sales of marijuana have been legal for one year. What are the results of this experiment? Who was wrong and who was right on legalization?
A new study has been released by the Drug Policy Alliance, a group that openly promotes “harm reduction policies” such as drug legalization, drug decriminalization, legal medical marijuana, and needle exchange programs. The study tracks several of the key social statistics connected with drug use.
Less Government Spending
The most obvious result, and one that everyone agreed on, was that arrests and convictions for marijuana violations would decrease. The number of arrests in 2012, the year prior to legalization, was 6,196, while in 2014 the number of arrests was 2,316, a decrease of 63 percent. Most of those arrests were for possession of more than one ounce of marijuana. Convictions for marijuana violations have also declined by 81 percent.
The report notes that as a result of fewer arrests and convictions there have been millions of dollars saved in terms of police, prosecutors, courts, and jails. Just as important is that legalization has allowed people to save in terms of money, transaction costs, and stress. The most important result of all is that legalization has already saved thousands of law-abiding citizens from having a criminal arrest record.
Washington has received $83 million in marijuana tax revenues which was in the general range of expectations. Most…