CALIFORNIA: A new report from the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice adds to the growing body of evidence that legalizing or decriminalizing marijuana does not lead to any number of doomsday scenarios envisioned by legalization opponents. Looking specifically at California, where full marijuana decriminalization went into effect on Jan. 1, 2011, the report finds that “marijuana decriminalization in California has not resulted in harmful consequences for teenagers, such as increased crime, drug overdose, driving under the influence, or school dropout. In fact, California teenagers showed improvements in all risk areas after reform.”
Most notable in the above table is the drop in school dropout rates. Recent studies have suggested links between heavy marijuana use and low school completion rates. But many experts question the direction of causality in this relationship, suggesting that there could be any number of confounding factors that account for this relationship. While it’s still early in California’s decriminalization experiment, the numbers above should suggest we cast a skeptical eye on claims of plummeting academic achievement in a post-legalization world.