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Study: Marijuana Legalization Associated With This Important Social Change

When citizens vote to legalize and regulate cannabis, crime rates go down, according to a study. According to data published in the Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, adult use marijuana laws are associated with lower levels of property crimes and violent criminal activity.

The data revealed thefts, property crimes, and rapes declined after marijuana regulation. Authors attributed the reduction in crime to less alcohol consumption and the reallocation of police resources, among other factors.

The study concluded:

“The concern that legalizing cannabis for recreational purposes may increase crime occupies a prominent position in the public debate about drugs. Our analysis suggests that such a concern is not justified.”

The study was conducted by researchers from the University of Bologna, who evaluated the connection between the cannabis regulations and crime rates in counties along the Washington-Oregon border. The study shows crime rates decreased dramatically in counties in Washington, where adult marijuana use was legalized in 2012, compared to counties in Oregon, which didn’t vote to legalize until 21014.

The study suggests that cannabis legalization reduced consumption of other drugs. It also reduces the instances of binge drinking and alcohol consumption in general.

This, of course, is not the first study to make the connection between marijuana legal reform and reduced crime.

Just last year, a report titled “Joint Culpability: The Effects of Medical Marijuana Laws on Crime,” concluded:

We do not find evidence that medical marijuana laws consistently affect violent and property crime. … Our results suggest that liberalization of marijuana laws is unlikely to result in the substantial social cost that some politicians clearly fear.

Studies have also demonstrated that cannabis retail outlets may actually reduce crime in the surrounding area. According to a 2017 report titled “Going to Pot? The Impact of Dispensary Closures on Crime,” marijuana shops provide more than $30,000 per year in social benefiet in terms of larcenies prevented. “Dispensary closures, and potentially the closure of other types of retail establishments, exert a significant negative externality in terms of neighborhood criminality,” the researchers said.


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