Politicians often try to argue that marijuana makes people more violent and more likely to commit crimes. In fact, the opposite is true. Studies have shown that legalizing marijuana actually reduces crime.
The most obvious effect of legalizing marijuana is that arrests for marijuana will drop dramatically. When the District of Columbia legalized marijuana, marijuana related arrests declined by 85 percent. However, the number of arrests did not drop to zero because there are still some restrictions on where and how marijuana can be used and distributed.
But there is evidence that legalizing marijuana not only reduces drug crimes; it also reduces the rates of other types of crime too.
Researchers at the University of Texas conducted a study in 2014 that analyzed the crime rates of all 50 states from 1990 to 2006. The researchers aimed to figure out whether the 11 states that legalized medical marijuana during that time period also experienced an increase in crime rates.
What they found was the exact opposite. In most cases, there was no increase in crime because of legalized medical cannabis, and there was actually a reduction in the rates of homicide and assault.
Another study done in 2015 found similar results. Researchers at the Norwegian School of Economics looked at crime rates in U.S. states that legalized medical marijuana before 2012. They compared the crime rates in those states to the crime rates in states that did not legalize medical marijuana.
The researchers found that legalization of cannabis caused a significant reduction in both theft and violent crime in states that shared a border with Mexico. The researchers theorized that the drop in crime was caused by a drop in activity of the drug gangs that smuggle illegal drugs from Mexico to the United States.
For more evidence, we can look at crime rates in Colorado. After Colorado became the first state to legalize recreational marijuana in 2012, the crime rate in Denver fell by 14.6 percent. And it wasn't just a drop in drug crimes. Property crimes alone fell by 14.6 percent, and violent crime fell by 2.4 percent.
So if legalizing marijuana reduces crime, why is it still illegal? One reason is that the prison lobby has a vested interest in keeping marijuana illegal.
Many American prisons are private, for-profit institutions. The more prisoners they have, the more money they get from the state and from cheap prison labor. Higher crime rates, whether those be drug crimes or violent crimes, means prisons make more profits.
It's time to stop allowing the prison industrial complex to hold back the legalization of marijuana. The reality is that legal cannabis makes for a safer and healthier society.
If you're interested in getting safe and legal access to the cannabis medicine you need in either the DC or MD areas, click here for more information.