Despite claims that legal marijuana states are causing trouble for neighboring areas of prohibition, a new working paper from the National Bureau of Economic Research finds the majority of the trials and tribulations reported in these areas are mostly exaggerated.
Researchers from the School of Economic Sciences at Washington State University have released a preliminary study entitled “The Cross-Border Spillover Effects of Recreational Marijuana Legalization,” which shows that the only perilous outcome from conflicting state marijuana laws is “a sharp increase in marijuana possession arrests” in border counties.
The report indicates that, “if a county shares a physical border with [a legalized] state, it experiences an increase in marijuana possession arrests of roughly 30 percent.”
This means law enforcement in those areas are likely creating their own problems by significantly ramping up efforts to bust people who purchase weed in legal states. These departments are spreading their forces thin in an effort to combat drug trafficking, but the study finds that the majority of the arrests are small time offenders.
Researchers found that the majority of these arrests were adults, not minors.
Marijuana legalization has “no impact on juvenile marijuana possession arrests,” the paper reads.
What’s more is researchers found absolutely nothing to suggest that marijuana legalization is a threat to non-legal states. In fact, the pro-pot policies do not appear to be jeopardizing public safety in anyway.
Although some areas bordering legal marijuana states have expressed concern that it will cause an uptick in stoned driving, the report finds that this has not been the case. In fact, areas bordering Colorado and Washington are experiencing a decline in impaired driving.
“DUI arrests decrease markedly for both border counties and non-border counties after [legalization],” researchers said.
The study finds that neighboring states are likely spending more tax dollars to prosecute low-level offenders.
Marijuana advocates believe the smarter move would be for prohibition states to join in on the fun and start capitalizing on this new, inevitable marketplace.
“Those states would be better served by joining their neighbors in legalizing marijuana for adult use, thus saving those law enforcement costs and earning tax revenue to boot,” said Russ Belville, host of the Marijuana Agenda, in his analysis of the situation.