Did Decriminalization Have Effect on Marijuana Use in the U.S.?

Did Decriminalization Have Effect on Marijuana Use in the U.S.?

Since 2002, the number of Americans who use marijuana and spend a catastrophic amount of money on it has significantly increased according to a study conducted by a policy analyst Steven Davenport. And it is no wonder; since 2002, 25 American states and the District of Columbia have liberalized their laws and decriminalized the use of marijuana for medical purposes. But the results of the National Survey concerning the use of cannabis and its impact on the human health have revealed a complex picture of the trends and statistics of frequent weed users. Since the research covers the period only up to 2013, it cannot show us the results of recent changes in marijuana laws. According to the findings of Davenport and his colleague Caulkins, the average marijuana sales have declined without the decrease in prices. It allows us to assume that the potency of marijuana has significantly increased since 2002. And indeed, cannabis plants grown today have a higher level of THC in their content. THC is the chemical that brings people the “high” feeling. In general, current trends in the cannabis market show some professionalization—it means that people prefer buying weed legally in the local medical marijuana dispensaries over getting it around the corner from a shady dealer. Besides, the professionalization of the market has made it less risky. According to a recent study, criminal risk per one cannabis transaction has fallen by 50%. Nowadays, there is one arrest related to weed per every 1000 transactions.

Who consumes weed more often?

In order to answer this question, Davenport and Caulkins focused on those who buy the largest amounts of weed rather than the occasional consumers. The result of the research was shocking: people who do not have a high school degree and earn less than $20,000 per year purchase weed surprizingly often compared to the share of the population they represent. So, the more educated and affluent you are, the smaller is the probability that you will purchase more weed than a typical American. The authors believe that if the changes in marijuana legalization will continue, these trends will potentially become even more pronounced.

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