A recently released French study was conducted to examine the effects of cannabis legalization on consumers in Washington State, Colorado and Uruguay. The report shows that legalizing cannabis in those areas has also led to an increase in cannabis consumption (surprising no one), but that increase has not yet led to a decrease in illegal sales. However, the study also reported that trends do not stay consistent for which age groups take advantage of the newly legalized drug.
The study was a joint effort conducted by the National Institute of Higher Security and Justice Studies and the French Observatory for Drugs and Drug Addiction. The two agencies looked at data from the aforementioned states and country where cannabis has been legalized, with hopes to learn more.
In Washington and Colorado, researchers found that consumption by those over 25 years of age increased. Legalization did not have an effect on the rate of use in teenagers however, which already was perceived at a high level. It was noted by researchers that legalization did not drive out the cannabis black market. Legalization did, however, alleviate pressure on law enforcement and reduced the number of court cases dealing with cannabis. It also noted that on an economic level, both Washington and Colorado have collected $1 billion in recreational cannabis sales each year since legalization.
In the study’s findings on Uruguay, “all the indicators of use have risen,” including cannabis consumption among teenagers. Uruguay uses a national registry and allows cannabis to be sold at pharmacies. The black market there is fueled by the gap between demand and legal production. An estimated 10 and 20 percent of Uruguay’s consumed cannabis is legally purchased.
France itself does not allow cannabis. Legalization is quite a ways off compared to Washington, Colorado and Uruguay, and while those states are enjoying the benefits of legalization, France still enforces consequences for consumption, which can net a consumer up to a year in prison and a fine of 3,750 euros (which equates to about $4,400 in U.S. dollars). Although President Emmanuel Macron has proposed the easing of consequences, nothing is set in stone yet.