Studies conducted in states where marijuana has been legalized test negative for an increase in crime
When states have considered legalizing marijuana use, opponents historically have argued that marijuana is a drug that causes crime. This, they say, would lead to a greater amount of crime, as users would turn to a life of crime in order to cover their habits. However, studies have been conducted in states where marijuana use is now legal and the results are in – crime has not risen anywhere.
One particular study was conducted by economist Yu-Wei Luke Chu. He looked for relationships between crime and marijuana, analyzing 25 years’ worth of data that spanned 1998 to 2013. The study revealed that there was no increase in crime in cities where marijuana is now legal. In fact, in California, crime rates have actually decreased by 20%.
The theory, at least for California, is that the legalization of marijuana led to a decrease in crimes because illegal sales were often associated with criminal activity – drug deals gone wrong, theft of product and robbery were prevalent. Now that marijuana use is legal, there is no need to conduct back-alley sales.
Legal marijuana use, especially in border states, has reduced crime associated with Mexican drug cartels and smuggling. This has also allowed law enforcement departments to free up resources and to concentrate on other crimes, generally improving public safety.
It’s an interesting conclusion and one that should help pave the way to more widespread adoption around the country, including on a federal level. Who would have thought, 30 years ago, that the “criminal” marijuana could actually help to decriminalize society?