New DPA Report–From Prohibition to Progress: A Status Report on Marijuana Legalization

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Alexandra Staropoli, Esq. | Policy Manager, New Jersey

Drug Policy Alliance

I am excited to share with you a new report (Executive Summary attached) by the Drug Policy Alliance, From Prohibition to Progress: A Status Report on Marijuana Legalization, that demonstrates how and why marijuana legalization is working in those states that have implemented legalization. Please find the key findings below my signature.

Nine states (Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont, Washington State) and Washington, D.C. have legalized marijuana. Vermont’s law was just signed on Tuesday, making it the 9th state to legalize marijuana – and the first to do so via state legislature.

From Prohibition to Progress finds that states are saving money and protecting the public by comprehensively regulating marijuana for adult use. There have been dramatic decreases in marijuana arrests and convictions, saving states millions of dollars and preventing the criminalization of thousands of people. Marijuana legalization is also having a positive effect on public safety and health. Youth marijuana use has remained stable in states that have legalized. Access to legal marijuana is associated with reductions in some of the most troubling harms associated with opioid use, including opioid overdose deaths and untreated opioid use disorders. DUI arrests for driving under the influence, of alcohol and other drugs, have declined in Colorado and Washington, the first two states to legalize marijuana. At the same time, states are exceeding their marijuana revenue estimates and filling their coffers with hundreds of millions of dollars.

The report also includes considerations for policymakers based on lessons learned from already legalized states, including:

  • The need to foster equity in the marijuana industry;
  • The need to reduce racial disparities and reform police practices;
  • The need to establish safe places for people to use marijuana; and
  • The need to promote marijuana decriminalization and penalty reductions for youth and young adults.

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