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Marijuana Re-Legalization: Its Effects on Teens

in Liberator Online by James W. Harris Comments are off

(From the Activist Ammunition section in Volume 20, No. 2 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

One of the most often-heard arguments against marijuana re-legalization is fear it will encourage marijuana use by teens.

Marijuana Use By Colorado TeenagersHowever, reports Paul Armentano, Deputy Director of NORML (National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws), several recent significant studies indicate that hasn’t been the case thus far. Studies indicate no connection between legalization of medical marijuana and teen use. Studies also find a recent decrease in teen use nationwide — including Colorado, which legalized marijuana in 2012.

Finally, a new article in Rolling Stone makes the controversial argument that decriminalization in California has brought enormous benefits to teens and to the state as a whole, by removing teen offenders from the criminal justice system.

Armentano first points to the University of Michigan’s highly regarded Monitoring the Future study, which tracks trends in substance use among students in 8th, 10th and 12th grades. Each year the national study, now in its 40th year, surveys 40,000 to 50,000 students in about 400 secondary schools throughout the United States.

This year Monitoring the Future found that marijuana use among teens declined slightly in 2014, with use in the prior 12 months declining from 26 percent to 24 percent. This small but significant decline follows five years of increasing use.

Armentano also reports on Colorado, which re-legalized marijuana in 2012: “Separate data published earlier this year by the Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment similarly found that fewer high-school students are consuming cannabis, despite voters’ decision in 2012 to legalize the possession, production, and sale of the plant to adults.

“According to the survey, the percentage of Colorado high schoolers reporting having consumed marijuana within the past 30 days fell from 22 percent in 2011 to 20 percent in 2013. High school students’ lifetime use of cannabis declined from 39 percent to 37 percent during the same two years.”

(For an excellent analysis of this report, see “Despite Legalization, Colorado Teenagers Stubbornly Refuse to Smoke More Pot” by Jacob Sullum of Reason magazine.)

What about states that legalized marijuana for medical use? Armentano reports on a July 2014 paper by the nonpartisan National Bureau of Economic Research that examined federal data on youth marijuana use and treatment episodes for the years 1993 to 2011 — a time period when 16 states authorized medical cannabis use.

The study concluded: “Our results are not consistent with the hypothesis that the legalization of medical marijuana caused an increase in the use of marijuana among high school students.”

As Jacob Sullum of Reason points out, these studies are consistent with earlier data from the Center for Disease Control’s Youth Risk Behavior Surveys from 1993 through 2011, which show little evidence of any connection between legalizing marijuana for medical use and the use of marijuana by high school students.

“Study: Legalizing medical marijuana has not increased teen pot use” was a headline in the April 24, 2014 Washington Post. According to the article: “the first comprehensive study of teen drug use in the states where marijuana is available for medical uses shows that [increased teen use] just hasn’t happened.”

The Washington Post was reporting on a study in the Journal of Adolescent Health. The authors of the study conclude: “Our study suggests that — at least thus far — the legalization of marijuana for medical purposes has not increased adolescent marijuana use, a finding supported by a growing body of literature.”

Decriminalization has also had major benefits for youth in California, reports Rolling Stone magazine in an article entitled “The War on Drugs Is Burning Out” by Tim Dickinson, January 8, 2015.

In late 2010 California decriminalized the possession of small amounts of marijuana. Possession of up to an ounce of marijuana became an infraction, like a parking ticket, with a maximum $100 fine.

Importantly, notes Rolling Stone, the law applied to users of any age — not just those 21 and over.

The result?

“The impact of this tweak has been remarkable,” Rolling Stone says.

“By removing low-level youth pot offenses from the criminal-justice system, overall youth crime has plummeted by nearly 30 percent in California — to levels not seen since the Eisenhower administration.

“And decriminalization didn’t lead to any of the harms foretold by prohibitionists. Quite the opposite: Since the law passed in 2010, the rate of both high school dropouts and youth drug overdoses are down by 20 percent, according to a new research report from the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice. Non-marijuana drug arrests for California youth, meanwhile, are also down 23 percent — fully debunking the gateway theory.

“Decriminalization in California, the report [from the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice] concludes, has reduced the harms of prohibition for thousands of California teens. ‘Fewer young people, its authors write, ‘are suffering the damages and costs of criminal arrest, prosecution, incarceration, fines, loss of federal aid and other punishments.’”

The authors also point out that perhaps the most important result of decimalization is that it gives police “one less pretext to disrupt the lives” of young blacks.

Marijuana Shockers Propel New Re-Legalization Effort

in Communicating Liberty, Liberator Online by James W. Harris Comments are off

(From the Intellectual Ammunition section in Volume 19, No. 11 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

“The Uncovery” is a new online program by the American Civil Liberties Union designed to facilitate mass online activism in support of marijuana re-legalization.

The UncoveryThe Uncovery website lets users select facts about the failures of marijuana prohibition, both national and state by state, and convert these facts into customized graphic messages they can share on social media and send to legislators — all in sixty seconds or less.

Among the sobering facts offered by The Uncovery:

  • Police in the U.S. make a marijuana arrest every 37 seconds.
  • Police made over 8 million marijuana arrests total nationwide between 2001 and 2010.
  • 88% of all marijuana arrests are for marijuana possession.
  • States spent an estimated $496 million incarcerating people for marijuana possession in 2010.
  • States spent an estimated $1.4 billion adjudicating marijuana possession cases in 2010.
  • States spent an estimated $3.6 billion enforcing marijuana laws in 2010.
  • States spent over $1.7 billion on police enforcement of marijuana laws in 2010.
  • In 2010, police made 889,133 marijuana arrests — 300,000 more arrests than they made for all violent crimes.
  • Between 2002 and 2011, the government spent billions enforcing marijuana laws. In that time, marijuana use increased from 6.2% to 7%.
  • 9 out of 10 U.S. adults believe people who possess or use small amounts of marijuana should not face jail time.
  • 52% of Americans support legalizing marijuana.
  • Since legalizing marijuana in 2012, Washington State projects it will raise more than $500 million in marijuana-related revenues annually.
  • More than 42% of all Americans report having tried marijuana in their lifetime.
  • The world’s largest jailer, the U.S. has only 5% of the world’s population, but 25% of the world’s prison population.
  • Black people and white people use marijuana at similar rates, but Blacks are 3.73 times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession.
  • In New York and Texas in 2010, 97% of all marijuana arrests were for possession.
  • 62% of all marijuana arrests in 2010 were of people 24 years old or younger.
  • Between 1995 and 2010, police increased the number of marijuana arrests they made nationwide by 51%.
  • 52% of all drug arrests in 2010 were for marijuana.
  • If current trends continue, the government will spend almost $20 billion enforcing marijuana laws in the next five years.

Learn more at TheUncovery.org

They Said It

in Communicating Liberty, Liberator Online by James W. Harris Comments are off

(From the They Said It section in Volume 19, No. 3 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

LIBERTARIANS, REPEAT AFTER ME: “Libertarians, repeat after me. The goal is Jeffrey Tuckerhuman liberty. The dream is human liberty. The ideal is human liberty. The end is human liberty. Therefore the subject is human liberty. And what does liberty encompass? All things wonderful, productive, beautiful, creative, magnificent. It’s because you believe in these things that you are a libertarian. Anything that distracts from human liberty, much less contradicts that, is irrelevant to the libertarian message. Don’t get distracted. Please. Civilization needs your voice, your passion, your love.” — libertarian writer and entrepreneur Jeffrey Tucker, Facebook, October 12, 2013.

Justice Antonin ScaliaJUDGE SCALIA: MASS ROUND-UPS, IMPRISONMENT COULD HAPPEN (AGAIN): “Well, of course, Korematsu [1944 US Supreme Court decision upholding mass incarceration of Americans of Japanese ancestry during World War II] was wrong. And I think we have repudiated in a later case. But you are kidding yourself if you think the same thing will not happen again. ‘Silent enim leges inter arma.’ [In times of war, the laws fall silent.] That’s what was going on — the panic about the war and the invasion of the Pacific and whatnot. That’s what happens. It was wrong, but I would not be surprised to see it happen again, in time of war. It’s no justification but it is the reality.” — U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia speaking to law students at the University of Hawaii law school, Feb. 3, 2014.

THE WAR ON DRUGS VS PHILIP SEYMOUR HOFFMAN: “Our drug policy ofEugene Robinson prohibition and interdiction makes it difficult and dangerous for people like Hoffman to get high, but not impossible — and it makes these tragic overdose deaths more common than they have to be. The obvious problem is that when an addict buys drugs on the street, he or she has no way of knowing how pure the product is and what else it might contain. …As long as this commerce is illegal, it is totally unregulated. Since we know that addicts will continue to buy drugs on the street, we also know that some will die from drugs that are either too potent or adulterated with other substances that could make them lethal. Is this really the intent of our drug policy? To invite users to kill themselves?” — syndicated columnist Eugene Robinson, “Philip Seymour Hoffman’s death shows that we’re losing this drug war,” Feb. 3, 2014.

Vermont Governor Peter ShumlinVERMONT GOV. SAYS WAR ON DRUGS IS LOST: “We have lost the War on Drugs. The notion that we can arrest our way out of this problem is yesterday’s theory.” — Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin, PBS Newshour, January 9, 2014.

NEW JERSEY GOV. CHRISTIE DENOUNCES “FAILED New Jersey Governor Chris ChristieWAR ON DRUGS”: “We will end the failed War on Drugs that believes that incarceration is the cure of every ill caused by drug abuse. We will make drug treatment available to as many of our non-violent offenders as we can and we will partner with our citizens to create a society that understands that every life has value and no life is disposable. We will fight to continue to change government so that we value our differences and honor the strength of our diversity.” — Gov. Chris Christie‘s inaugural speech, Jan. 21, 2014.

Erick EricksonLAISSEZ FAIRE: “You know what the government can do for me? Leave me the hell alone. They can’t get us through airports without groping us, they can’t deliver our mail without a bailout, they can’t fight a war without turning the military into a sociological experiment, and they can’t manage healthcare without 404 errors, death panels, and rigged numbers to hide massive debt. Leave us alone. … If they’d just leave us alone, I suspect we’d be just fine, have more freedom, and Main Street could be productive again.” — conservative commentator Erick Erickson, “Leave Us Alone,” RedState.com,  January 28th, 2014.

Reason Poll: Only Six Percent of Americans Think Marijuana Possession Should Be Punished With Jail Time

in Liberator Online by James W. Harris Comments are off

Marijuana Possession Punishable with Jail Time?That’s right: only six percent of Americans think minor marijuana possession should be punishable by jail time.

Further, a strong plurality of Americans think the use or possession of small amounts of marijuana should not be punishable… at all.

These astonishing results, unimaginable just a few years ago, are from a new Reason-Rupe poll conducted May 9-13. They show how rapidly support for ending the despotic War on Marijuana is growing. (The Reason-Rupe polls are a project of the Reason Foundation and funded by the Arthur N. Rupe Foundation.)

The nationwide telephone poll of 1,003 people asked: “Which approach do you think government and law enforcement should take toward someone found smoking marijuana or in possession of a small amount of marijuana?”

Only six percent of respondents said possession should be punishable with jail.

Twenty percent said it should result in mandatory substance abuse counseling.

Thirty-two percent said users should incur a fine, not jail.

Fully 35 percent of respondents said people caught with small amounts of marijuana should not be punished at all.

As Reason magazine notes, “The Reason-Rupe poll is one of the few instances — possibly the first — in which the usual polling dichotomies of incarceration versus treatment and criminal penalty versus civil penalty have been expanded to include no penalty whatsoever.

“The results suggest that Americans are comfortable with the idea of decriminalization — which reduces the penalty for minor marijuana possession to a civil fine — and more sympathetic than ever to the idea of fully legalizing possession.”

In addition, the poll found a majority of Americans support the right of states to legalize marijuana. Specifically, 52 percent would support legislation to “prevent the federal government from prosecuting people who grow, possess, or sell marijuana in the states that have legalized it.”