Medical Marijuana Legalization Might Actually Lower Crime
April 2nd, 2014
Policy, Top News
Opponents to legalizing cannabis often point to public safety as a primary concern, but research seems to indicate the opposite. In a study published on March 26th, researchers studied data from 1990 to 2006 and found that medical marijuana legalization didn’t exacerbate criminal offenses. In fact, legalization may actually be correlated with a reduction in homicide and assault rates.
“[Past studies] provide evidence to the notion that marijuana use is at a minimum correlated with an increase in violent or aggressive behaviors,” said the researchers in their report. “What remains unclear is whether these findings imply a causal link between marijuana use and violence … it could be argued that the relationship between violence and marijuana use is primarily due to its illegality.”
States passing medical marijuana legalization laws experienced reductions in crime, while the rate of reduction appears to be steeper in states passing those laws as compared to others for several crimes such as homicide, robbery, and aggravated assault. Notably, the results were based on official arrest records that don’t account for crimes not reported to police, which could make room for variability.
“These findings run counter to arguments suggesting the legalization of marijuana for medical purposes poses a danger to public health in terms of exposure to violent crime and property crime,” said the report’s authors. “To be sure, medical marijuana laws were not found to have a crime exacerbating effect on any of the seven crime times… [in fact] MML precedes a reduction in homicide and assault.”
Currently, 22 U.S. states have medical marijuana programs in place with many other states poised to add their own programs in upcoming elections. Medical marijuana has shown effective in treating everything from childhood epilepsy to cancer pain, and is being extensively studied in many other areas. Most Americans also support cannabis legalization, according to recent Gallup polls.
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