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Washington

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director May 1, 2019

    House and Senate lawmakers this week approved legislation, Senate Bill 5605, facilitating the expungement of past low-level marijuana convictions. The legislation now awaits action by Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee, who has previously called for pardoning those with criminal records for marijuana violations.

    The measure provides the courts with the discretion to vacate any misdemeanor marijuana conviction. Those seeking to have their records expunge will need to petition the sentencing court for the vacation of their records.

    Governor Inslee has previously stated that he “believes that forgiving these convictions will allow people to move on with their lives without these convictions causing additional burdens on people, their families, their employers and their communities.”

    Once signed, the new law goes into effect on July 27, 2019.

    For additional information on pending marijuana legislation, visit NORML’s ‘Take Action Center’ here.

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director April 12, 2019

    Marijuana and MoneyThe passage of statewide adult use marijuana laws is associated with an immediate uptick in housing prices, according to an assessment published by the online service Clever Real Estate.

    The study determined: “States that legalize recreational cannabis see an immediate bump in home values following legalization, even without retail dispensaries opening up. From 2017 to 2019, cities where recreational marijuana is legal saw home values increase $6,337 more than cities where marijuana is illegal” after controlling for potential confounders.

    Cities that regulated retail marijuana facilities experienced an even greater increase in overall home prices.

    By contrast, the study did not identify a similar significant increase in home prices in cities where only medical cannabis was legally regulated.

    Regarding crime rates following the passage of legalization, the study failed to identify any overall trends in legal states that significantly differed from the national average. “The crime rate increases in Washington and Colorado are consistent with nationwide violent crime trends since 2014. … Using Colorado and Washington as case studies, it’s clear that the market benefits from marijuana legalization outweigh the potential costs in terms of home values,” the study’s author concluded.

    The report’s findings are consistent with those of prior studies, such as those here and here.

    Full text of the study, “How Legalizing Recreational Marijuana Impacts Home Values,” appears online here.

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director March 21, 2018

    The enactment of adult use marijuana regulation in Colorado and Washington is not independently linked to an increase in traffic fatalities, according to a study published this week by the National Bureau of Economic Research.

    Investigators at the University of Oregon compared traffic accident outcomes in Colorado and Washington following legalization to other states with similar pre-legalization economic and traffic trends. They reported, “We find that states that legalized marijuana have not experienced significantly different rates of marijuana- or alcohol-related traffic fatalities relative to their synthetic controls.”

    Authors concluded, “In summary, the similar trajectory of traffic fatalities in Washington and Colorado relative to their synthetic control counterparts yield little evidence that the total rate of traffic fatalities has increased significantly as a consequence of recreational marijuana legalization.”

    The study’s findings are similar to those of a 2017 study published in The American Journal of Public Health which reported, “Three years after recreational marijuana legalization, changes in motor vehicle crash fatality rates for Washington and Colorado were not statistically different from those in similar states without recreational marijuana legalization.”

    A 2016 study reported that the enactment of medical cannabis legislation is associated with an immediate decline in traffic fatalities among younger drivers.

    Full text of the study, “Early evidence on recreational marijuana legalization and traffic fatalities” is available from the National Bureau of Economic Research. NORML’s fact-sheets on cannabis, psychomotor performance, and accident risk is online here.

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director February 5, 2018

    The legalization and regulation of marijuana for adults is associated with a drastic reduction in overall arrests, increased tax revenue, and is not adversely impacting public health or safety, according to a comprehensive report issued by the Drug Policy Alliance.

    Among the report’s highlights:

    Marijuana arrests are down. Arrests for marijuana in all legal marijuana states and Washington, D.C. have plummeted, saving states hundreds of millions of dollars and sparing thousands of people from being branded with lifelong criminal records.

    Youth marijuana use is stable. Youth marijuana use rates have remained stable in states that have legalized marijuana for adults age 21 and older.

    Marijuana legalization is linked to lower rates of opioid-related harm. Increased access to legal marijuana has been associated with reductions in some of the most troubling harms associated with opioids, including opioid overdose deaths and untreated opioid use disorders.

    Calls to poison control centers and visits to emergency departments for marijuana exposure remain relatively uncommon.

    Legalization has not made the roads less safe. DUI arrests are down in Colorado and Washington. The total number of arrests for driving under the influence, of alcohol and other drugs, has declined in Colorado and Washington, the first two states to regulate marijuana for adult use. There is no correlation between marijuana legalization and crash rates. The crash rates in both states are statistically similar to comparable states without legal marijuana laws.

    Marijuana tax revenues are exceeding initial estimates.

    The marijuana industry is creating jobs. Preliminary estimates suggest that the legal marijuana industry employs between 165,000 to 230,000 full and part-time workers across the country.

    The full DPA report is available online here. Their findings are similar to prior reviews of the impact of adult use regulatory schemes on health and safety, such as this 2016 CATO Institute report.

    NORML has similarly compiled fact-sheets of the most relevant peer-reviewed data addressing the impact of legalization on health, safety, and the economy here.

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director July 20, 2017

    Marijuana ScienceRevenues from Colorado’s legal cannabis industry have surpassed over a half-billion dollars since retail sales began on January 1, 2014.

    According to an analysis by VS Strategies, cannabis-related taxes and fees have yielded $506,143,635 in new state revenue over the past three and one-half years. (Local tax revenue was excluded from the analysis.) Much of the revenue raised has gone to fund school construction projects, school-drop out and substance abuse prevention programs, and grant funding.

    The half-billion dollar total far exceeds initial projections. Tax revenue from legal cannabis sales in Oregon and Washington have also exceeded regulators’ initial expectations. In Nevada, where retail sales to adult became legal on July 1, retailers reported over 40,000 transactions in just the first weekend.

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