The legalization of cannabis in Canada has had a notable effect on the interaction between young citizens and law enforcement, as per recent data released earlier this spring. The findings, published in the “Drug and Alcohol Dependence” journal in April, revealed that the country’s marijuana legislation, which has been in place for five years, resulted in a significant decrease in reported cannabis-related offenses among individuals aged 12 to 17, regardless of gender.
By examining police records from Jan. 1, 2015, to Dec. 31, 2021, researchers affiliated with the Center for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto discovered a substantial decline in daily incidents for both young males and females. Among young females, there was a notable 62.1% reduction, equating to 4.04 daily incidents. In the case of young males, the daily offenses decreased by 53% to 12.42.
Canada’s Cannabis Act, which officially took effect in October 2018, legalized the recreational use of marijuana for adults aged 18 and above. The researchers concluded that the impact of the Cannabis Act on diminishing marijuana-related offenses among young individuals persists over time, aligning with the act’s primary goal of reducing criminalization associated with cannabis use among youth and its subsequent effects on the Canadian justice system.
The researchers also observed that the legalization of cannabis showed no discernible link to patterns of property crimes or violent offenses.
NORML, in its report, quoted the researchers as stating that the Cannabis Act had led to substantial and consistent reductions of approximately 50% to 60% in cannabis-related criminal incidents reported by young males and females over a span of about three years following legalization.
The researchers asserted that these findings demonstrate the benefits associated with implementing the Cannabis Act, given the negative social and individual-level consequences of young people’s involvement with law enforcement and the criminal justice system due to cannabis-related offenses.
Additionally, the researchers had previously reported that the Canadian Cannabis Act of 2018, which allowed youth to possess up to 5 grams of dried cannabis or its equivalent for personal use or sharing, resulted in a short-term (76 days) reduction in police-reported, cannabis-related crimes among youth.
These findings align with another study published in “Drug and Alcohol Dependence,” which demonstrated that the legalization of recreational marijuana use and cannabis sales in Canada did not contribute to an increase in motor vehicle accidents.
Similarly, a 2021 study produced analogous results, revealing no significant changes in traffic-related injuries or emergency department visits among drivers, including youth, following the implementation of the Cannabis Act.
The concerns about the possibility of cannabis legalization leading to increased crime rates or higher rates of incidents between the youth and police seem largely unfounded as the studies above show. Attitudes about marijuana are likely to improve even more once the THC-formulations by companies such as IGC Pharma Inc. (NYSE American: IGC) hit the market after obtaining the approval of the FDA.
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