Opponents of medical marijuana envision all kinds of insidious ways that legalizing the drug might lead to crime. Make marijuana more accessible, and more people will use it. If more people use it, more will tumble through the weed “gateway” to cocaine, or worse. Those people will then engage in crime to fund their hard-drug habits, or violence in the service of getting the stuff.
Furthermore: Once word gets out about medical dispensaries, those locations will become hotspots for criminals who now know exactly where to find prey carrying cash and drugs. Same goes for grow houses, which just invite property crime.
Pondering all of these dark possibilities, it’s no wonder anyone suspects mayhem in medical marijuana laws. Actual historic crime data, however, suggest there’s no evidence that legalizing the drug for medicinal purposes leads to an increase in crime. In fact, states that have legalized it appear to have seen some reductions in the rates of homicide and assault.
These findings come from a nationwide study published Wednesday in the journal PLOS One (which is notable for the fact that no one seems to have done this crucial analysis before). Researchers at the University of Texas at Dallas looked at the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report data across the country between 1990 and 2006, a span during which 11 states legalized medical marijuana. Throughout this time period, crime was broadly falling throughout the United States. But a closer look at the differences between these states – and within the states that legalized the drug before and after the law’s passage – further shows no noticeable local uptick among a whole suite of crimes: homicide, rape, robbery, assault, burglary, larceny, and auto theft.
– Read the entire article from The Washington Post.