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The Effect of Marijuana Decriminalization Across the Country

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In just the last few years, the debate over marijuana legalization has shifted tremendously. What was once banned wholesale and treated as a cultural taboo a la "Reefer Madness" is now becoming more widely accepted in state after state. Much of the country has already taken steps to decriminalize marijuana, for medicinal uses in 23 states and Washington, D.C., and for recreational use in Colorado and Washington. While the anti-legalization camp has long decried this kind of move as something that would open the floodgates to widespread drug abuse and a surge in fatal traffic accidents, the results so far seem to be pointing to precisely the opposite.

While hard research is still hard to come by, especially in these relatively early days, The Washington Post has compiled some of the more astounding findings regarding the effects of marijuana decriminalization throughout the country:

  • Improvements in the number of teen arrests, drug overdoses and school dropouts in California
  • Lower drug and alcohol use among teens is declining
  • Fatal car accident rates in Colorado have dropped despite legalized recreational marijuana
  • Legalization of medical marijuana hasn't increased marijuana use among teens
  • States with medical marijuana access have seen reduced rates of prescription drug overdoses.

While these associations don't prove direct cause-and-effect relationships, the overwhelming implication seems to be that legalizing marijuana use is not the sky-is-falling threat that many worried it would be, and in many cases has actually helped reverse dangerous trends for the better.

Of course, this doesn't mean that you should get behind the wheel stoned either. Driving under the influence of marijuana can be just as dangerous as drunk driving, and it's important to abstain from either drug or alcohol use if you know you're going to be driving. If you are arrested and charged with DUI under Colorado marijuana laws, though, contact The Orr Law Firm right away for expert legal representation.