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Legal weed doesn’t hurt youth outcomes; Jeff Sessions doesn’t care

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Soon after his election, Donald Trump announced he would appoint Jeff Sessions as attorney general, sending a wave of panic through the world of activism around legalizing or decriminalizing marijuana. Sessions is an old-line drug warrior who opposes all state-level efforts to liberalize marijuana laws, and it was widely feared he would reverse Obama-era Department of Justice policies recommending that federal authorities not interfere with states that legalize marijuana.

In July, Sessions made his first tentative move toward cracking down on states that legalize pot, sending a letter to Washington state officials in which he expressed skepticism about marijuana legalization, repeatedly singling out the fear that such laws would lead to more pot smoking among minors.

If Sessions is legitimately concerned about high school kids, and that’s not just a front for promoting laws that are disproportionately enforced on black people, then he probably shouldn’t worry so much. A new study published in the National Bureau of Economic Research suggests that the effects of liberalizing marijuana laws on the behavioral outcomes of minors is … well, nothing. At least nothing of significance.

“Zeroes are always hard to sell,” said study author Angela K. Dills, an economics professor at Western Carolina University.

“Basically we find nothing,” she added, laughing.

The researchers used data from the annual Monitoring the Future report, which is issued by the University of Michigan and supported by grants from the National Institute on Drug Abuse and National Institutes of Health.........

© Salon