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Marijuana Arrests Plummet in Washington State Because of Legalization

One major aspect of marijuana legalization is working exactly as hoped by eliminating thousands of low level marijuana arrests. New information from Washington State shows that low level marijuana filings for adults over 21 in 2013 dropped to just 2% of what they were the year before legalization.

According to court data gathered by the ACLU of Washington State there were 6,879 low-level marijuana offenses involving adults in 2011 while in 2013, the first year legalization was fully in effect, there were just a 120.

Probably the only reason there are still 120 low level marijuana arrest for adults over the age of 21 is because the individuals possessed more than the legal limit of one ounce but less than the 40 gram cut off for it to remain a misdemeanor.

There was also a smaller but still significant drop in low level marijuana arrest involving people under the age of 21. Filings for this group were effectively cut in half after legalization.

This data closely mirrors the large drop in marijuana arrests also seen in Colorado last year. It is clear that legalizing marijuana will effectively stop police and court resources from being wasted on busting adults for using a relatively benign plant for the personal enjoyment. This allows the law enforcement resources to be used on more important efforts.

Jon Walker is the author of After Legalization: Understanding the future of marijuana policy

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Jon Walker

Jon Walker

Jonathan Walker grew up in New Jersey. He graduated from Wesleyan University in 2006. He is an expert on politics, health care and drug policy. He is also the author of After Legalization and Cobalt Slave, and a Futurist writer at