Study Affirms: Medical Marijuana Does NOT Increase Crime Rates

Giving people access to medical marijuana may make them happier, pain-free, and able to function normally without the assistance of side-effect laden pharmaceuticals. The medical marijuana industry also creates jobs and tax revenue. But one thing it doesn’t do, despite what opponents would have you think, is increase the crime rate.

A new study from researchers with the University of Texas at Dallas indicates crime is not negatively impacted by medical marijuana laws.

Critics of medical marijuana have frequently used fear tactics in their arguments. “Marijuana dispensaries are an invitation to robbers, drug fiends, and criminals in general,” they’d like you to believe. Unfortunately for them, however, this argument holds no water.

The new study can be found in the peer-reviewed journal PLOS One and found no “noticeable local uptick among a whole suite of crimes” in the states and locales where medical marijuana dispensaries were set up, according to the Washington Post. These crimes included homicide, rape, robbery, assault, burglary, larceny, and auto theft—those tracked by the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report, the national database of annual crime statistics.

With opponents of marijuana legalization, whether for medical or recreational use, frequently using increased risk of robberies as an argument against and and all pot legalization efforts, it’s particularly positive to see those crimes saw absolutely no increase.

medical marijuana legalization does not increase crimeSurprisingly to some, however, crimes including homicide and assault actually decreased in these areas.

“While it is important to remain cautious when interpreting these findings as evidence that MML reduces crime, these results do fall in line with recent evidence [29] and they conform to the longstanding notion that marijuana legalization may lead to a reduction in alcohol use due to individuals substituting marijuana for alcohol [see generally 29, 30]. Given the relationship between alcohol and violent crime [31], it may turn out that substituting marijuana for alcohol leads to minor reductions in violent crimes that can be detected at the state level.”

While the study doesn’t prove causation (i.e. marijuana laws decrease violent crime), it does provide some interesting data and fuel for the fight against marijuana opponents.

The researchers also surmise:

“Perhaps the more likely explanation of the current findings is that [medical marijuana] laws reflect behaviors and attitudes that have been established in those societies. If these attitudes and behaviors reflect a more tolerant populace that is less likely to infringe on one another’s personal rights, we are unlikely to expect an increase in crime and might even anticipate a slight reduction in personal crimes.”

In other words, maybe marijuana users and supporters are just nicer people.

About Elizabeth

Elizabeth Renter is a freelance writer and editor who writes about criminal justice issues.

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