It has been said that legalizing marijuana gives police forces more time to focus on real crime. Considering that some the latest national data shows that cops spend most of their days dealing with drug offenders, while a large portion of violent crimes, like rapes, go unsolved, it stands to reason that pulling officers off marijuana cases would give them no choice but to do real work. Well, there is now some data to support this claim.
It seems that police are solving more non-drug-related crimes in states that have legalized marijuana. A new study published in the journal Police Quarterly shows that this phenomenon is most prevalent in Colorado and Washington, the first two states to end pot prohibition several years ago. It is there that cops are now more efficient at bringing violent offenders to justice, as well as those criminals connected to theft and burglaries. In other words, police is legal states are starting to do their jobs.
“While our results cannot specifically explain why police clearance rates have increased in Colorado and Washington, we think the argument that legalization did in fact produce a measurable impact on clearance rates is plausible,” researchers said, according to journalist Kyle Jaeger.
“Our models show no negative effects of legalization and, instead, indicate that crime clearance rates for at least some types of crime are increasing faster in states that legalized than in those that did not.”
The study shows that violent crime was experiencing an uptick before marijuana was legalized in Colorado and Washington. But the situation has improved post-legalization. The findings suggests “that right around the time of legalization, clearance rates trends seemed to increase for violent crime in general for both Colorado and Washington, though no similar shifts are noted for the country as a whole.”
When it comes to property crime, the citizens were also better served following legalization. The clearance rates for these types of crimes in Colorado and Washington increased while the nation experienced a decline.
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Although researchers say they cannot prove that police departments are doing better at their jobs solely because weed is legal, it is certainly a major factor.
“We cannot offer with absolute certainty that these changes are entirely the result of marijuana legalization, though we are quite certain that legalization has not unduly hampered police performance, at least as measured by clearance rates,” researchers said. “Moreover, in the absence of other compelling explanations, the current evidence suggests that legalization produced some demonstrable and persistent benefit in clearance rates, benefits we believe are associated with the marijuana legalization proponents’ prediction that legalization would positively influence police performance.”