As a handful of states have legalized marijuana for recreational use, some others have taken less dramatic steps toward decriminalizing pot by reducing the legal penalties associated with marijuana possession. In the latter, for example, possession of small amounts of marijuana for personal use is considered a civil or local infraction—similar to simple traffic violations—rather than a state crime.
Now, an analysis of marijuana use and arrests in five states that decriminalized marijuana between 2007 and 2015 indicates there was no corresponding rise in the drug’s use among young people, according to research led by Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. Further, marijuana-related arrests declined significantly in those states.
The findings are published July 16 in the International Journal of Drug Policy.
“It seems decriminalization is a viable middle ground between legalization and continuing to arrest people for possessing small amounts of marijuana,” said first author…