Published by the Social Science Research Network , the study looked at data on monthly purchases of cookies, chips, and ice cream from grocery, convenience, drug, and mass distribution stores in more than 2, counties in the United States over a year period. The data, largely taken from the Nielsen Retail Scanner database, covers 52 designated market areas in the 48 contiguous states.
The researchers compared purchasing trends to the implementation dates for recreational marijuana laws in states including Colorado, Oregon, and Washington. Their analysis showed that legalizing recreational marijuana led to a 3. While increases in ice cream and chip purchases reduced slightly in the months following legalization, the increase for cookie purchases remains high.
The trend was consistent across the three legalizing states included in the study.
Additional states that have also legalized recreational marijuana were not included in the study because 18 months of purchasing data was not yet available for those states. Most notably, HIV infections and drug-related deaths have decreased, while the dramatic rise in use feared by some has failed to materialise. Portugal decriminalised the personal possession of all drugs in This means that, while it is no longer a criminal offence to possess drugs for personal use, it is still an administrative violation, punishable by penalties such as fines or community service.
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There was a growing consensus among law enforcement and health officials that the criminalisation and marginalisation of people who use drugs was contributing to this problem, and that under a new, more humane, legal framework it could be better managed. Portugal complemented its policy of decriminalisation by allocating greater resources across the drugs field, expanding and improving prevention, treatment, harm reduction and social reintegration programmes. The introduction of these measures coincided with an expansion of the Portuguese welfare state, which included a guaranteed minimum income.
While decriminalisation played an important role, it is likely that the positive outcomes described below would not have been achieved without these wider health and social reforms. Conflicting accounts of how rates of use changed after are usually due to different data sets, age groups, or indicators of changing drug use patterns being used. But a more complete picture of the situation post-decriminalisation reveals:. Levels of drug use are below the European average 5 Drug use has declined among those aged , 6 the population most at risk of initiating drug use 7 Lifetime drug use among the general population has increased slightly, 8 in line with trends in comparable nearby countries.
Overall, this suggests that removing criminal penalties for personal drug possession did not cause an increase in levels of drug use.
Drug decriminalisation in Portugal: setting the record straight. - Transform Drug Policy Foundation
This tallies with a significant body of evidence from around the world that shows the enforcement of criminal drug laws has, at best, a marginal impact in deterring people from using drugs. Instead, drug use tends to rise and fall in line with broader cultural, social or economic trends.
It has been claimed that the prevalence of drug-related infectious diseases rose after decriminalisation, 20 yet this is strongly contradicted by the evidence. Although the number of newly diagnosed HIV cases among people who inject drugs in Portugal is well above the European average, 21 it has declined dramatically over the past decade, falling from 1, to 56 between and Harm reduction has been one of the cornerstones of the Portuguese approach.
Some have argued that, since , drug-related deaths in Portugal either remained constant or actually increased.
Given an individual can die with traces of drugs in their body without this being the cause of their death, it is the second number — derived from clinical assessments made by physicians, rather than post-mortem toxicological tests — that is the standard, internationally accepted measure of drug-related deaths. And according to this measure, deaths due to drug use have decreased significantly — from approximately 80 in , to 16 in In fact, there are no data collected for drug-related homicides.
Despite claims to the contrary, 34 decriminalisation appears to have had a positive effect on crime.
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