New Evidence that Californians made a Mistake Yesterday

Californians made many mistakes yesterday in electing Gov. Jerry Brown, re-electing Senator Barbara Boxer and voting down Proposition 23.

The biggest mistake of all, however, was in rejecting the Tax and Regulate Cannabis Act, or Prop. 19. For all of my editorializing (see here, here and here), I couldn’t sway the majority of Californians to vote in favor of legalizing recreational use of marijuana.

Tragically, new evidence out of Portugal that supports my arguments came to my attention just hours after the polls closed. Australian researchers purport to show that decriminalization of illicit substances has led to significantly lower levels of crime and abuse. From the abstract:

“This paper examines the case of Portugal, a nation that decriminalized the use and possession of all illicit drugs on 1 July 2001. Drawing upon independent evaluations and interviews conducted with 13 key stakeholders in 2007 and 2009, it critically analyses the criminal justice and health impacts against trends from neighbouring Spain and Italy. It concludes that contrary to predictions, the Portuguese decriminalization did not lead to major increases in drug use. Indeed, evidence indicates reductions in problematic use, drug-related harms and criminal justice overcrowding.”

You can find the entire paper here.

H/T: Tyler Cowen

  • Mason Hooten

    I completely agree, you’d think in a time of sever budget crisis the state would decriminalize something which hinders employment due to antiquated ideas about the war on drugs.

  • Casey Given

    While I agree that California should completely legalize marijuana, it should be noted that it is decriminalized. Governor Schwarzenegger signed this policy into law last month:

    Thus, hopefully we’ll see results similar to Portugal’s in a few years.