Youth Arrests In California Plunged 20 per cent In One Year After Marijuana Decriminalization

california marijuana

Photo: Flickr/Cannabis Culture

Arrests of youths under age 18 in California fell by 20 per cent from 2010 to 2011, and researchers identified marijuana decriminalization as the largest contributor to the sharp decline.

An analysis of arrest data by The centre on Juvenile & Criminal Justice (CJCJ) found that all crime decreased substantially among youths from 2010 to 2011, reaching its lowest level since statewide statistics were first compiled in 1954.

The researchers note that the stunning 47 per cent drop in drug offence arrests was primarily caused by “a drop of 9,000 in youths’ low-level marijuana possession arrests under a new state law reducing that offence from a misdemeanour to an infraction,” although¬†other drug offenses decreased considerably as well.

California’s new law makes the possession of under an ounce of pot punishable by a $100 fine.


The report states that the drop in youth crime “has sharply reduced costs for all phases of California’s criminal justice system, releasing resources for other priorities.”

The report put the savings from not incarcerating youth at $1 billion, adding that “when all phases of the system are considered, savings to public agencies would total significantly more.”

In this way the CJCJ report bolsters the argument that marijuana legalization will save law enforcement agencies a lot of money. 

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