California Marijuana Decriminalization Credited For Youth Crime Rate Drop

Marijuana decriminalization in California is being credited for the drop in the youth crime rate. Between 2010 and 2011 the sate experienced the lowest crime rate among minors since record keeping began in 1954. The rate dropped by 20 percent, according to the Huffington Post.

The “California Youth Crime Plunges to All-Tim Low” study unveiled by the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice reviewed arrests of individuals under 18 over the course of the past eight decades. The San Francisco-based study found that not only has the youth crime rate dropped significantly, but a bill passed by former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger reducing the punishment for marijuana possession played a substantial role in the statistics.

Governor Schwarzenegger’s bill altered the punishment for being caught with a small amount of marijuana from a misdemeanor to a simple infraction. Considering how many times Lindsay Lohan was released from a jail sentence early due to overcrowding issues, the bill likely helped free-up a lot of bed space for the cash-strapped state.

During the year after the California marijuana decriminalization statute became law, the number of arrests for violent crimes dropped by 16 percent, according to the study. Homicide arrests also reportedly decreased by 26 percent across the state. Drug arrests changed the most, decreasing by almost 50 percent.

Most of the drug arrest decreases resulted from the change in how the state handles small marijuana possession. During 2010 California marijuana possession accounted for a total of 64 percent of all drug arrests. In 2011, that figure decreased to just 46 percent. The youth crime rate drop in California decreased at a faster rate than anywhere else in the United States.