More Proof that Changing Marijuana Laws Doesn't Hurt Children

The first and last thing almost any opponent of marijuana reform will tell you is that if we ease up on marijuana enforcement, our children will pay the price. Reforming marijuana laws, they claim, "sends the wrong message" to our young people and paves the path to a life of addiction, crime, and lost promise.

With that in mind, let's take a look at an interesting story emerging in Massachusetts:

Mass. courts' juvenile caseload plummets
December 6, 2010

LOWELL — Criminal and child welfare caseloads in the state’s juvenile courts have fallen sharply over the past three years despite economic turmoil that has placed enormous strain on many families, a dramatic decline that confounds social workers, lawyers, and child and family advocates. [Boston Globe]

Like any social trend, there are surely a multitude of factors at play here, but I'm surprised no one mentioned this:

Mass. voters OK decriminalization of marijuana
November 4, 2008

Massachusetts voters today approved a ballot initiative to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana, making getting caught with less than an ounce of pot punishable by a civil fine of $100. The change in the law means someone found carrying as many as dozens of marijuana cigarettes will no longer be reported to the state’s criminal history board. [Boston Globe]

It's been 2 years since Massachusetts decriminalized possession of marijuana, and what do they have to show for it? An inexplicable decline in juvenile crime.

To be clear, I'm not at all attempting to claim that the decriminalization of marijuana is solely responsible for bringing down juvenile crime rates in Massachusetts. The decline began before the law took effect, so there's obviously a lot more to the story (although I don't doubt that if juvenile crime were going up instead of down, our opponents would immediately tell anyone who'd listen that the problem was entirely caused by reducing marijuana penalties).

What's significant here is that marijuana decriminalization hasn't prevented – and may even have contributed to – an exciting decline in crimes committed by young people. This outcome is the perfect opposite of what our opponents have been screaming for many years and anyone who actually cares about protecting youth or society in general should be thrilled to see things going so well.

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Sending a message to children

Hey kids, children, let`s go to a professional league ball game why don`t we . Let`s go to Coor`s field . Watch adults guzzle alcohol and have fun . How about all those Bud Light signs that litter Turner Field in Atlanta ? What message does that send to the children ? How `bout naming a stadium  in New York " Northern Lights " field ? God forbid that children be exposed to Cannabis when there is so much alcohol to be consumed . Cannabis prohibition ensure`s that teens have steady access to Cannabis . No I.D. , no problem. Just don`t tell your folk`s where you got this bud from that you came to me to buy . The hypocrisy is off the charts .

Message to kids

Kids are smarter than the prohibitionists because they know a lie when they hear it. Telling teens that marijuana is bad is like telling a politician that corruption is bad. It just doesn`t register. Marijuana compared to alcohol is like a machine gun compared to a BB gun. Marijuana prohibitionists sent a message to children a long time ago and that is to disregard those crazy liars that tell you to stay away from marijuana while they guzzle their alcohol. Lunacy in action.

Messages from politicians

I've always found the thought that children were anything but oblivious to politards and the messages they send. In my personal experience I never got any messages from the politards until I was 18, when they sent me the message to vote for them and to make monetary contributions.

However, I very much recall my parents sending me a message when I was a wee lad. The message is still very much ingrained some 45 years later. That message was that there are certain things in life reserved for adults only, and that children aren't allowed to participate in these activities.

I waited until age 18 to try cannabis or drinking alcohol and very much credit that delay to my parents message being drilled into my head from about age 5.

The thing that really sucks is when I was a boy I couldn't enjoy things that were for adults, but by the time I got to be an adult I'm not supposed to partake of adult pleasures because of the chilled wrens.

Perhaps things have changed since I was a child. I have no basis to suppose anything about today's youth. For all I know they could be spending their Saturday mornings watching C-span and waiting with breathless anticipation for their next issue of the Congressional Record.

If the politards want to send a message, tell them to use Western Union.


Know Nothing prestidigitation

In 1996 the Know Nothing prohibitionists assured us that if Prop 215 were to pass there would be carnage and mayhem  on the highways and everyone down to children just out of diapers would get "hooked on weed"

Since 1996 traffic safety has seen a stunningly large improvement in highway safety.

Since 1996 youth use in Califoria has had a healthy decrease.

Both statistics having improved remarkably as part of a nationwide trend. California's declines were better than the national average but not by a particularly remarkable margin. But if either of those indicators had been in the other direction the Know Nothings would be beating their collective chest and screeching I told you soes.

"Kids are smarter than the

"Kids are smarter than the prohibitionists because they know a lie when they hear it. Telling teens that marijuana is bad is like telling a politician that corruption is bad. It just doesn`t register."

I think you meant: politicians telling kids corruption is bad/wrong - then numerous politicians taking part in political scandals/corruption cases/taking bribes/accepting donations from special interest parties.

Follow the money...

PS: This upcoming November

PS: This upcoming November Election we can create real 'Change' within America, by not voting for those that have already held office (ie: the Democratic Party, the Republican Party, even *gasp* the Tea Party[I can't stand behiend the Tea Parties backing of Sarah Palin]). LET YOUR VOICE BE HEARD - let's really scare the powers that be by putting into power a member of the: Libertarian, Green, or Independent Party! 

Drew B's picture

Legalizing Drugs Sends the RIGHT Message to Teens

If they tell you it "sends the wrong message," just tell them, "actually, it sends the right message.  It tells them 'drugs are not to be dispensed by children, teens, or gangs.'"

Chances are they'll huff and puff and stomp around some while they try to come up with another terror tactic. 

Taking the profit out of it is the best way to drive down teen violence and ALL violence.  But then everyone around here already knows that. :-)

Not only that but fatal car

Not only that but fatal car crashes in Massachusetts have steeply declined the last couple years as well.

Most opponents of legalization claim that easing up on marijuana laws would cause a big increase in drugged driving which would result in a large increase in the number of accidents, and fatalities.

Children must me told the

Children must me told the truth.  Period!  Right now the government is lying about marijuana and going against the request of doctors to have it rescheduled.  The government then tells kids that weed is the devil and uses scare tactics and intimidation to keep them away from it.

It is prohibition that is running on lies and psych-ops that is hurting the children.  Legalization based on  science and truth would allow children to learn about pot just like they learn about alcohol.  In fact, alcohol is too lenient.  Both alcohol and pot should be freely available but with ZERO advertising.  We don't need beer stadiums and beer billboards.  So if you are in fact a real concerned parent about drug use you should call for a ban on alcohol mass advertising and the highly controlled legalization of marijuana. 

I have a family member that

I have a family member that works in our state's juvenile courts, and I've heard too many stories not to comment on an article like this. Though I agree very much with what you're saying, I thought I should point out that many of the cases handled by juvenile courts involving drugs aren't to do with children's use, but their parents' use of drugs. I am in favor of reform or I wouldn't be here, but I think it's a little naive to expect others not in favor to recognize that less drug use cases brought to the courts when it concerns children is a good thing. More often than not prosecuting parents for drug use harms the family more than the drug use did, but I don't think we can expect drug warriors to see it that way. From that perspective it would seem to me like we were letting more parents continue with behavior that harmed their families, and I would be horrified.

We all have to work with the same facts, but interpretation varies wildly. Though less cases prosecuted seems like a very good thing to me, I wouldn't expect those who support the drug war to see things the same way. In that light, it might almost be a good thing that no one's attributing the decrease to drug cases going unprosecuted. 

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