The key to combating crime: Why marijuana should be legalised

As states have legalized marijuana, crime rates – which many predicted would rise – have either stayed steady or have dropped. Voters living in states that have not gotten on the marijuana bandwagon yet need to inform themselves about how marijuana can decrease crime. With the facts in hand, they will be more likely to vote for legalization. Here’s some information that can get you up to speed on marijuana legalization and crime.

How Can Marijuana Decrease Crime?
The case for those opposing the call to set the cannabis industry free relies on the misconception that legalization of marijuana will cause crime rates to soar. In fact, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, speaking in February 2017, claimed that the higher levels in today’s marijuana crops had caused an outcrop of “real violence”, despite this being backed by any evidence.

Statistics Show Dropped Crime Rates Come with Marijuana Legalization

In fact, it actually appears that the opposite is the case and that marijuana legalization can decrease crime. In Washington, where both medical and recreational use of marijuana became legal in 2012, the overall crime rate dropped, according to the Drug Policy Alliance. Violent crime rates showed a dramatic 10 percent drop since legalization. Burglaries declined by six percent; murders by 13 percent.

In Colorado, rates for property and violent crimes combined showed a decrease of five percent since that state’s legalization, according to the state’s Department of Public Safety in a 2016 report.

Robert Morris, an associate professor of criminology at the University of Texas at Dallas, conducted a study on the effects of medical marijuana on the crime rate. He found no increase in overall crime rates in any of the states that legalized the medical use of the substance. He did find, however, “evidence of decreasing rates of…homicide and assault.” Though the researchers only studied medical marijuana, Morris believes that the statistics will hold for across-the-board legalization. The preliminary evidence that has come out of Colorado and Washington bears out Morris’ prediction.

Job Growth in Cannabis Industry May Spur Crime Drop

A reasonable explanation for the reduction in crime is the creation of new jobs. Legalizing marijuana has given rise to a burgeoning cannabis industry. That industry, according to a February 2017 Forbes article, looks to create over a quarter of a million new jobs by the year 2020. Currently, the industry already has an estimated 100,000 to 150,000 workers.

Indeed, as a joint study by the UK-based Centre for Economic Research shows, with improved job prospects comes a decline in crime rates. That alone should spur the rush to legalization, since the cannabis industry would expand into other states who join the growing numbers who have already voted for legalization.
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