A new study which looked at the relationship between cannabis legalization and crime, conducted by the UT Dallas, has concluded that there is no correlation between legalization and an increase in crime. On the contrary, the evidence suggests that legalization may even reduce violent crime; particularly homicide and assault rates.
The study looked at crime rates across 50 states between 1990 and 2006, 11 states legalized marijuana for medical use including: Maine, Vermont, Nevada, Alaska, Rhode Island, Montana, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Oregon, and Washington. Since 2006, 20 states and Washington D.C have legalized cannabis for medical use.
Despite the common arguments about legalization leading to increased crime from the prohibition supporters, it turns out that legalization is no indicator of increased crime. The study accounted for sociodemographic and economic variables that are well established links to crime rates. These included statistics on prison inmates, college education, unemployment, poverty, and more. It even accounted for the amount of beer consumption from each person – each year.
The study used criminological data from the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report, they examined crime rates for rape, robbery, assault, burglary, larceny, and auto theft. From all the data, there is no evidence to suggest any correlation between legalization and an increase of crime in these areas. Dr. Rob Morris, who led the study, concluded that legalization doesn’t pose a crime problem.
Although there has been much success with the fight to end prohibition, there remains a firm and passionate opposition that is dedicated to keeping cannabis criminalized, despite the surmounting evidence indicating that such a position is not economically or medically sound.
Regardless of prohibition efforts however, the war on drugs continues to fail in its effort to decrease or prevent usage. One 2007 study, conducted by psychologist Louisa Degenhardt of Michigan State University and her colleagues, found that 43 percent of U.S. adults aged 18 or older have tried marijuana at least once.
Although there are also some merits to its addictive qualities, cannabis remains no less addictive than alcohol, nicotine, or tobacco. It turns out that only about 10% of recreational marijuana users will develop problems severe enough to impair their work and relationships.
There also remains the argument that cannabis is a “gateway” drug, despite data and suggestion from many others who would argue that instead, alcohol is more likely candidate as a gateway drug, and one which most individuals will likely experiment with first before they try cannabis. Colorado has seen millions of dollars – in just one month alone – in sales following their move toward legalization, and it is expected that Washington, which begins selling in June, will also generate tens of millions in revenue within just a few months.