We've come a long way from the days of "Reefer Madness," the influential 1950s film that blamed marijuana use for everything from criminal behavior to impotency. Today, the vast majority of people are not only unafraid of marijuana, they're actively campaigning for its legalization. In fact, in many cases, these proponents don't even use marijuana themselves!
People today realize that decriminalizing marijuana, despite past misconceptions, actually decreases the crime rate. In this blog post, then, we're going to cite specific examples of why this is so, if only so that we can show the few remaining detractors of legalized cannabis that decriminalizing marijuana actually decreases the crime rate.
The Case of Colorado
Colorado is one of the first states to completely decriminalize marijuana, something for which they received a lot of national and international fanfare. Many people were worried that this move would turn Colorado into a wasteland of sorts — that the legalization of pot would lead to an increase in crime, and would lead to a "slippery slope" that would result in the legalization of a variety of "hard drugs" (such as cocaine and heroin) that would turn Colorado into a drug kingpin's paradise.
But, as the Natural Society reported shortly after legalization occurred, not only did all of the fears prove to be unfounded, but legalization proved to have just the opposite effect on Colorado society.
Here are some statistics that the Natural Society found regarding legalized pot in Colorado:
- Overall, Denver has experienced a 14.6 percent decrease in crime since pot was legalized.
- Property crime in Colorado is down 14.6 percent.
- Violent crime in Colorado is down 2.4 percent.
- Thanks to more than $1 billion in marijuana sales, Colorado is receiving more than $100 million in state revenue. This newfound state revenue will go on to fund more positive things for the state of Colorado, including libraries, schools, cultural activities and arts programs for children.
Academics Agree That Legal Pot Is a Good Thing
It's not only state officials in Colorado who agree that legal pot is a positive thing. The Huffington Post recently did an interview with the lead author of the most respected study, to date, on legalized marijuana — "The Effect of Medical Marijuana Laws on Crime: Evidence from State Panel Data, 1990-2006." This study, which was conducted by researchers at the University of Texas at Dallas, outlines what the FBI has confirmed: Over the course of more than a decade, 11 states legalized marijuana in some form or another. In each of those states, crimes that the FBI refers to as Part I crimes (rape, homicide, grand robbery, assault with a deadly weapon) have decreased substantially in numbers.
“After controlling for a host of known factors related to changes in crime rates — we accounted for factors such as poverty, employment, education, even per capita beer sales, among other things — we found no evidence of increases in any of these crimes for states after legalizing marijuana for medical use,” Morris told The Huffington Post. “In fact, for some forms of violence — homicide and assault — we found partial support for declines after the passing of this legislation.”
To put it another way: If even the FBI realizes that legalizing marijuana is a good thing, then everyone else should agree! But it's not just about the government thinking it's a good idea — legalizing marijuana has proven, by a series of statistics, to be better for American society than keeping it criminalized.