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In November 2012, Washington State voters passed Initiative 502 (I-502), which legalized limited possession, private use, and commercial sales of cannabis for adults. The law also directed the Washington State Institute for Public Policy (WSIPP) to evaluate various public health, public safety, and economic impacts of the implementation of I-502 in a series of reports.
In this third required report, we describe findings from analyses of the relationship between non-medical cannabis legalization or licensed retail operations and various outcomes. First, we examined how cannabis possession misdemeanor conviction rates changed in Washington after the passage of I-502. Second, we examined how reported cannabis use has changed in Washington after the passage of I-502 compared to non-legalizing states. Last, we specifically focused on the impact of local access to licensed non-medical retailers. For these analyses, we examined how retail access relates to substance abuse and traffic safety outcomes within the state over time.
These analyses represent an intermediate step towards the ultimate legislatively mandated benefit-cost evaluation of I-502.