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With California as case study, the case for marijuana legalization grows stronger

A majority of Americans now support marijuana legalization, and with good reason, according to a New York Times piece on what experts have learned in the 17 years since California became the first state to legalize medical marijuana.

"Warnings voiced against partial legalization -- of civic disorder, increased lawlessness and a drastic rise in other drug use -- have proved unfounded," the Times notes. Instead, experts point to a number of positive outcomes associated with legalization.

A possible reduction in alcohol abuse -- and drunk driving -- is just one example, according to the Times:

In a broad study on the ramifications of legalizing recreational marijuana about to be published in The Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, two economics professors said a survey of evidence showed a correlation between increased marijuana use and less alcohol use for people ages 18 to 29.

The researchers, D. Mark Anderson of Montana State University and Daniel I. Rees of the University of Colorado, said that based on their study, they expected younger people in Colorado and Washington to use marijuana more and alcohol less.

“These states will experience a reduction in the social harms resulting from alcohol use: Reducing traffic injuries and fatalities is potentially one of the most important,” the professors said.

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