Study Reveals State Cannabis Legalization Lowers Immigrant Deportation

Study Reveals State Cannabis Legalization Lowers Immigrant Deportation

There’s yet another compelling reason to legalize weed. According to new research, states that have legalized cannabis also experience a “moderate relative decrease” in immigrant deportation rates compared to states where the drug is still illicit.

As a study featured in the American Journal of Community Psychology details, immigration raids and deportations create widespread fear and mistrust, which have cascading effects throughout entire communities. As the fear of being targeted grows, people are less likely to engage with local institutions such as churches, schools, health clinics, cultural events, and social services. 

And it also finds that kids who experience the sudden, forced deportation of a parent often suffer from a range of psychological issues including anxiety, anger, aggression, and withdrawal. They may also exhibit a heightened sense of fear, trouble eating and sleeping, PTSD, and depression. While these conditions can be treated with cannabis and therapy, the research on legalizing cannabis and deportation indicates that we could get in front of such troubles if we just legalize it, to begin with. 

Of course, it’s not just immigrants, although better immigration policy benefits everyone. The study, conducted by researchers from Columbia University, also notes a slight reduction in overall cannabis-related arrests.

The authors of the study stated that recreational cannabis laws (RCLs) could “help to mitigate some of the unintended immigration-related consequences of cannabis prohibition.” They observed that “Arrest trends in both legalization and non-legalization states were relatively similar and generally stable over the period.” They also found that the trends suggested that the overall prevalence of deportations went down between 2009 and 2020.

Here’s a bit more of what they had to say:

“Our results suggest that the RCLs were associated with a moderate relative decrease in deportation levels that was observed relatively consistently across multiple model specifications. Findings also suggested potential relative decreases in immigration arrest levels; however for almost all specifications, associated confidence intervals were wide and included the null. Together these findings support the overall possibility that RCLs may help to mitigate some of the unintended immigration-related consequences of cannabis prohibition.”

About ten percent of U.S. families with children have at least one family member who doesn’t have citizenship, and it’s estimated that nearly six million kids have at least one caregiver without authorization to live in the country, putting them at risk for the aforementioned trauma and related mental health conditions. 

The authors of the study didn’t draw definitive conclusions about the apparent link between state-level cannabis legalization and reduced deportations. However, it is noteworthy that all 11 sanctuary states for immigrants (California, Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, D.C.), which generally discourage reporting immigrants to federal authorities, have also legalized cannabis for adult use.

The research leads to the conclusion that legalization generally results in fewer arrests for cannabis-related offenses, suggesting that fewer immigrants are likely to be implicated in marijuana criminalization from the get-go.

The researchers identified two “countervailing pathways” that they described as “relevant to anticipating the potential immigration implications of RCL adoption,” which are as follows: 

“First, RCLs could lead to potential decreases in the overall number of cannabis-related arrests or convictions, and therefore cannabis-related immigration enforcement. A second possibility, however, is that state adoption of RCLs might lead more people who are non-citizens to reasonably but falsely assume that federal immigration status is unaffected by cannabis use permissible under state law—potentially leading to increases in immigration enforcement.”

So basically, simply legalizing marijuana for everyone will naturally lower the number of people who are deported for daring to enjoy weed. However, there is also a chance that if recreational cannabis laws are passed, people who aren’t legal citizens might feel an unfortunately safe, false sense of security. 

The study explains that even though some states have legalized cannabis, don’t forget that it’s still illegal under federal law. This means that any cannabis-related offenses, even seemingly minor ones, can have serious repercussions for non-U.S. citizens such as permanent residents, DACA recipients, and those granted asylum. According to federal policy, simply being charged with or admitting to possessing a small amount of cannabis can lead to problems with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), including affecting immigration status or even leading to arrest, detention, or deportation. This is also true for those who work in the cannabis industry, further narrowing the scope of available labor to immigrants. 

So while yes, legal weed on a state level could lead to people feeling too comfortable and forgetting that there’s still the federal government to fear, overall, recreational laws seem to make life easier for everyone, as this new research into its implication on immigration shows. 

  Read More The Latest Marijuana News Today | HighTimes Magazine 

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