cato article

The imposition of laws legalizing and regulating the adult use, production and retail sale of cannabis in four states has “had minimal effect on marijuana use,” according to an analysis by the CATO Institute – Washington, D.C.’s free-market leaning think-tank. “The absence of significant adverse consequences is especially striking given the sometimes dire predictions made by legalization opponents.”

Researchers from Harvard University and Western Carolina University assessed the impact of marijuana legalization laws in Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, and Washington on a variety of health and safety outcomes, including drug use, suicide rates, substance abuse treatment admissions, crime rates and road safety.

By contrast, the authors determined that legal changes have had a significant impact on generating new streams of state tax revenue. “One area where legal marijuana has reaped unexpectedly large benefits is state tax revenue,” they concluded, adding that in some jurisdictions “these figures are above some pre-legalization forecasts.”

The full text of the report, “Dose of Reality: The Effect of State Marijuana Legalizations,” is available here.



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About Paul Armentano

Paul Armentano is the Deputy Director of NORML, the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, and a Senior Policy Advisor at Freedom Leaf. He also serves on the faculty of Oaksterdam University. Mr. Armentano’s writing and research on marijuana policy have appeared in well over 750 publications, scholarly and/or peer-reviewed journals, as well as in more than two dozen textbooks and anthologies. He is the co-author of the book Marijuana is Safer: So Why Are We Driving People to Drink? (2009, Chelsea Green), which has been licensed and translated internationally, and more recently, The Citizens’ Guide to State-by-State Marijuana Laws (Whitman Books, 2015). Mr. Armentano is the 2013 Freedom Law School Health Freedom Champion of the Year and the 2013 Alfred R. Lindesmith award recipient in the achievement in the field of scholarship.

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