According to a recent study undertaken by University of Mississippi researchers, the legalization of cannabis, especially for recreational use by adults, is linked to a minimum of 10% reduction in the rates at which kids are admitted into foster care homes. These reductions occur for placements associated with neglect, physical abuse, abuse of drugs (excluding marijuana) or alcohol as well as for parental incarcerations.
The study further indicates that if marijuana were to be legalized federally, there would be massive savings with regard to the money injected into foster care each year. To arrive at these conclusions, the team of researchers collected data from several sources and then analyzed that data.
The authors reported that from their analysis, admissions to foster care drop by a minimum of 10% once marijuana is legalized, and bigger reductions occur several years after a jurisdiction has ended cannabis prohibition. The team compared the data for states with recreational cannabis markets and states that don’t have enabling cannabis laws for the recreational use of the substance.
Previous research suggests that each child placed into a foster-care family costs approximately $25,000 each year. Based on this estimate, the University of Mississippi team deducted that allowing adult-use marijuana can save the country approximately $675 million every year with regards to the funding that goes into sustaining the foster care systems.
One source of data for this research was the reporting system of the Adoption and Foster Care Analysis. The team accessed the records from this system spanning the period 2000 to 2017. They found that there was no statistically notable difference between the rates at which kids enter the foster care system in different states that don’t have recreational marijuana laws. However, admission reductions start gradually manifesting once legalization takes place.
Several possible explanations are offered for this occurrence. First, the researchers posit that allowing recreational cannabis can potentially reduce the likelihood that an individual will abuse other drugs. For instance, studies say legal access to recreational cannabis correlates with a reduction in the use of alcohol.
Also, cases of kids going into foster care due to the imprisonment of their parents or other related causes tend to decrease when recreational marijuana is legal. However, the researchers are quick to note that they aren’t sure exactly how these “knock-on” effects occur and further research is needed to understand any causal relationships between full cannabis legalization and issues such as parental neglect, physical abuse and so on.
For now, it looks like enacting recreational cannabis laws and allowing entities such as American Cannabis Partners to operate seems to be good for society, especially in terms of lowering the incidence of kids ending up in foster care.
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