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Yes, Marijuana Legalization Is Working

February 10, 2019 in Economics

By Jeffrey Miron

Jeffrey Miron

In recent decades, U.S. marijuana laws have liberalized
substantially. Recreational marijuana use is now
legal
in 10 states and the District of Columbia, and many more
states have legalized marijuana for medical use. In response,
legalization opponents have
claimed
that marijuana use increases crime, violence and
schizophrenia.

So is marijuana legalization good policy? Yes.

Recent
research
casts doubt on alarmist claims about the effects of
recent state-level marijuana legalization. By looking at the pre-
and post-legalization trends in outcomes such as marijuana use,
other drug or alcohol use, marijuana prices, crime and traffic
accidents, it becomes clear that state-level marijuana legalization
has been associated with, at most, modest changes in these
outcomes. The absence of significant adverse consequences is
especially striking given the dire predictions made by some
legalization opponents.

The absence of
significant adverse consequences is especially striking given the
dire predictions made by some legalization opponents.

In addition, economic logic suggests that drug prohibition,
whether for marijuana or any other drug, is misguided. Drug use
entails risk for some users, and use sometimes harms innocent third
parties. But the adverse effects of prohibition are far worse.

Little
evidence
suggests that prohibition reduces drug use. Instead,
prohibition breeds black markets and pushes consumers into illicit
drug use, which is far more dangerous than legal consumption. Drug
quality control is
poor
in underground markets because reliable suppliers cannot
legally advertise their goods and consumers cannot sue for damages
due to faulty or mislabeled products. Drugs obtained from
underground markets do not come with warning labels, and users
cannot discuss safe use with their physicians, making them more
likely to combine drugs with alcohol or other medications that
suppress respiration.

Legalization opponents claim that drugs increase violent or
criminal tendencies, but any association between drugs and violence
arises mainly from prohibition’s impact on drug markets. Throughout
the 20th century, major fluctuations in the U.S. homicide rate have
been positively
associated
with fluctuations in the enforcement of drug and
alcohol prohibition. Prohibition raises drug prices, which
motivates some consumers to commit crimes to fund their drug
use.

Under prohibition, drug-related disputes between users and
suppliers, such as those over faulty or mislabeled products, are
more likely to be settled with violence since they cannot be tried
in court. Prohibition also
decreases
the marginal cost of committing a crime; a marijuana
supplier who already evades the law has little incentive to obey
the law in other instances. The Mexican drug war has also been

linked
to increases in homicide as captures of kingpins
motivate rival gangs to exploit weakened …read more

Source: OP-EDS