Pot is not yet legal in California, but ending the war on it sure has made a huge difference in creating a safer society -- not to mention freeing up jail space for like, you know, real criminals. Since the Golden State's marijuana decriminalization law of 2010 took effect, juvenile crime has hit the lowest level since the state began keeping records in 1954.
While it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure underage crime can't help but drop when a major and easily accessible drug of choice is reduced to $100 fines for possession of less than an ounce, the numbers are still pretty stunning.
Under age arrests in just one year, between 2010 and 2011, fell a remarkable 20 percent, according to data analyzed by the San Francisco-based Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice. (Click here to review the full report.)
More revealing, however, is what reducing penalties pot possession -- from misdemeanor to mere infraction -- has meant in other areas of law enforcement.
While drug-related juvenile arrests plummeted by a startling 47 percent, between 2010 and 2011, the number of arrests for violent crimes fell by 16 percent; homicide arrests by 26 percent; and rape arrest by 10 percent.
No other state in the country has experienced such a precipitous drop in serious youth crime.
"We haven't see this low a number since 1970, said Sacramento County Chief Probation Officer Don Meyer. "We now get an average of seven [juveniles] a day, and that's come down from 20 a day."