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Rolling Stone: The War on Drugs Is Burning Out

Decriminalization helped take the wind out of the sails of the legalization campaign, which failed at the ballot box. But having spurred the legislature to action, pot activists indirectly scored a huge victory for criminal and racial justice. Possession of up to an ounce of marijuana became an infraction, like a parking ticket, with a maximum $100 fine. And the California law applied to users of any age – not just tokers 21 and over.

The impact of this tweak has been remarkable: By removing low-level youth pot offenses from the criminal-justice system, overall youth crime has plummeted by nearly 30 percent in California – to levels not seen since the Eisenhower administration. And decriminalization didn’t lead to any of the harms foretold by prohibitionists. Quite the opposite: Since the law passed in 2010, the rate of both high school dropouts and youth drug overdoses are down by 20 percent, according to a new research report from the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice. Non-marijuana drug arrests for California youth, meanwhile, are also down 23 percent – fully debunking the gateway theory.

Decriminalization in California, the report concludes, has reduced the harms of prohibition for thousands of California teens. Fewer young people,” its authors write, are suffering the damages and costs of criminal arrest, prosecution, incarceration, fines, loss of federal aid and other punishments.” Perhaps most important, the Darren Wilsons of California have one less pretext to disrupt the lives of the state’s Michael Browns.”

Read the full article at Rolling​Stone​.com »