“Legalization linked to fewer suicides, traffic fatalities, and opioid deaths. A new paper on the public health effects of legalizing marijuana finds “little credible evidence to suggest that [medical marijuana] legalization promotes marijuana use among teenagers” and “convincing evidence that young adults consume less alcohol when medical marijuana is legalized.””
“Overall, liberalizing prostitution laws was linked to a significant decrease in rape rates, while prohibition was linked to a significant increase—but the magnitude of these two shifts was far from equal. Rather, “the magnitude of prohibiting commercial sex is about four times as large as that of liberalizing it,” write Gao and Petrova.
The average rape rate in the sample countries was nine rapes per 100,000 people. Countries that liberalized prostitution laws saw a decrease of approximately three rapes per 100,000 people, relative to countries that did not change their prostitution laws. Meanwhile, countries that banned or further criminalized prostitution saw an increase of around 11 rapes per 100,000 people, relative to the control countries.”
“Gao and Petrova do offer the caveat that “changes in prostitution laws might not be random. It is possible that a country changes the laws as part of a general program to improve women’s social status and is thus instituting other policies that may affect rape rates,” and although they attempted to control for this in various ways, these techniques “may not fully address the possible nonrandomness of prostitution laws.””
“their findings are in line with a spate of previous research linking liberalized sex work laws to decreases in sexual violence. For instance, a 2018 study showed that rapes in Rhode Island decreased when the state temporarily decriminalized indoor prostitution. A 2017 study found fewer sexual assaults after legal street prostitution zones were opened in 25 Dutch cities. Another 2017 study linked the launch of Craigslist “erotic services” ads in various U.S. cities to decreases in female homicide rates.”
“The initiative that legalized magic mushroom businesses allows cities and counties to ban them via ballot initiative. Local governments also retain the power to craft “time, place, and manner” regulations over psilocybin businesses.
This past election, 25 of Oregon’s 36 counties voted to ban psilocybin businesses, including four that voted to legalize psilocybin in 2020. Only two counties that put the questions to voters, Deschutes and Jackson counties, kept these businesses legal.
And this week, those two counties will consider new land use regulations that could severely restrict where newly legal “psilocybin service centers” can set up shop.”
“When marijuana was legalized in Oregon, it went through a similar journey. Voters approved a relatively liberal legalization ballot initiative. The legislature followed this up with more constricting regulations. Then a long list of local governments opted not to allow marijuana businesses. Those that did often imposed zoning regulations that made a lot of prime real estate off-limits to the new industry.
Given that history, it’s perhaps unsurprising that local governments would want to tightly regulate legalized psychedelics facilities—given how novel and new they are.
Subjecting new industries to heavy regulation is nevertheless a great way to strangle them in the crib. A business as weird as legalized shrooms requires a lot of experimentation. And we shouldn’t trust county commissions to design the perfect trip.”
“Voters on Tuesday approved the legalization of recreational marijuana in Maryland and Missouri while rejecting similar measures in Arkansas, North Dakota, and South Dakota. Meanwhile, voters in five Texas cities passed ballot measures that bar local police from issuing citations or making arrests for low-level marijuana possession. But the most striking election result for drug policy reformers looking beyond the ongoing collapse of marijuana prohibition happened in Colorado, where a broad psychedelic decriminalization measure is winning by two points with 80 percent of votes counted.
Prior to yesterday’s elections, 37 states had approved marijuana for medical purposes, and 19 of them also had legalized recreational use. The Maryland and Missouri results raise the latter number to 21.”
“Colorado voters this week passed the broadest reform of psychedelic drug policy ever approved in the United States. With 88 percent of ballots counted as of Wednesday night, 51 percent of voters had said yes to Proposition 122, which decriminalizes noncommercial activities related to the use of “natural medicine” by adults 21 or older. That term covers five psychedelics found in plants or fungi, some or all of which will eventually be available at state-licensed “healing centers.””
“The initiative defines “natural medicine” to include psilocybin, psilocyn (another psychoactive component of “magic mushrooms”), dimethyltryptamine (DMT, the active ingredient in ayahuasca), ibogaine (a psychedelic derived from the root bark of the iboga tree), and mescaline (the active ingredient in peyote). The covered activities include “growing, cultivating, or processing plants or fungi capable of producing natural medicine for personal use.” The initiative also eliminates civil and criminal penalties for possessing, storing, using, transporting, or obtaining the listed psychedelics or distributing them to adults 21 or older “without remuneration.””
“The initiative notes that “natural medicines have been used safely for millennia by cultures for healing.” It adds that “an extensive and growing body of research” supports “the efficacy of natural medicines combined with psychotherapy as treatment for depression, anxiety, substance use disorders, end-of-life distress, and other conditions.” But like Oregon’s initiative, Proposition 122 does not require that clients of psychedelic centers have any particular medical or psychiatric diagnosis.”
“When California legalized recreational marijuana in 2016, the state had more than 3,000 weed shops. They ostensibly served the medical market, but the rules were so loose that pretty much anyone who wanted pot could buy it legally. Six years later, California had less than half as many licensed marijuana merchants, accounting for between a quarter and a third of total sales.
Something clearly has gone wrong “when you try to legalize weed and accidentally end up illegalizing it instead,” note University of California, Davis, economists Robin Goldstein and Daniel Sumner. In their book Can Legal Weed Win?, they explain how burdensome licensing requirements, regulations, and taxes have frustrated plans to displace the black market.”
“Most people in California know what a disaster legalization has been. Most people know that the black market still accounts for the majority of marijuana purchases in California. Most people (especially those who live outside the big cities) are well aware of all the illegal grow operations. What this series does is provide specific examples of the dangerous environment that still exists, full of threats, violence, and even murder.”
“There is the assumption in these stories that the breakdown in the system is due to a lack of control and enforcement by police and regulators. The stories are reluctant to address the real sources: The extent of state and local taxes drive up prices, and the ability of local officials to decide who can participate in cannabis is a huge factor in the persistence of the black market. While the stories do bring up these issues to provide some context, they really don’t contend with how much of the California black market is a result of the exorbitant costs to do business legally in the state.
Instead, the illegal grow operations and unlicensed dispensaries are presented as a failure of enforcement.”
“The real failure here is that the state and local officials have put in so many regulatory barriers and taxes that the market cannot function properly within the boundaries of the law. Illegal grow operations flood the market with cheap goods, and licensed operations can’t compete because they have to give so much money to the government. The same holds true for dispensaries.”
“The cannabis industry, of course, remains completely illegitimate in the eyes of the federal government. That means anyone who grows or distributes marijuana in California, even with the state’s approval, is committing federal felonies every day. But even though President Joe Biden wants to keep it that way, he has promised not to interfere with states that reject marijuana prohibition. So why are the feds not only busting marijuana merchants in California but doing so in collaboration with local law enforcement agencies?
The explanation, as you may have surmised, is that these particular marijuana merchants were breaking state law as well as federal law. Their businesses were not just “illegal” but also “unlicensed.” Yet the fact that unlicensed pot dealers continue to thrive in California is testimony to the ways in which the state has botched legalization. Most local governments do not allow recreational sales, and even those that do frequently impose caps that artificially limit the supply. Bureaucratic barriers, costly regulations, and high taxes are daunting deterrents for weed dealers who otherwise might be inclined to go legit.
Those burdens, combined with local bans, explain why unlicensed sales still account for about two-thirds of the marijuana purchased in California. As a recent report from Reason Foundation (which publishes Reason) notes, California has one licensed recreational outlet per 29,282 residents, compared to one per 13,838 in Colorado and one per 6,145 in Oregon. Worse, the report adds, California’s stores are distributed unevenly across the state, leading to “massive cannabis deserts” where “consumers have no access to a legal retailer within a reasonable distance of their home.””
“When Californians voted to legalize recreational marijuana cultivation and sales back in 2016, the industry ended up saddled with state and local taxes that make it inordinately costly to attempt to sell or buy cannabis legally. As a result, the black market for marijuana still dominates sales in a state where it’s legal to buy it. Industry analysts estimate about $8 billion in black market marijuana sales annually in California—double the amount of marijuana purchased through licensed dispensaries.
The cultivation tax has been consistently eyed by industry analysts as a problem. This particular tax is unique among agricultural products in California, and due to the legislation passed in 2017 to establish tax authorities, it’s regularly adjusted for inflation. As a result, cultivation tax rates actually increased at the start of 2022 despite this big black market problem.
The high cost of attempting to cultivate marijuana has both given cannabis farmers second thoughts and has fostered a whole new drug war as state and local law enforcement officers raid illegal grow operations out in the rural and uninhabited parts of the state. Legislators even passed a new law adding more potential criminal penalties for those arrested for “aiding and abetting” any unlicensed dealers.”
“It’s good news that Newsom is proposing eliminating the cultivation tax. He may be doing it in the hopes that the state will make more money, but California residents will also benefit from cheaper legal options. And if this makes it easier for people to grow cannabis legally, there will hopefully be fewer raids and enforcement operations in the future.”