Joined: Jun 09 2006
Topic: STUDY: Medical Marijuana Reduces Crime Posted: Mar 29 2014 at 2:16pm
Legalizing Medical Marijuana May Actually Reduce Crime, Study Says
Legalizing medical marijuana causes no increase in crime, according
to a new study. In fact, legalized medical pot may reduce some violent
crime, including homicide, University of Texas at Dallas researchers
wrote in a journal article published this week.
believe that medical marijuana legalization poses no threat of
increased violent crime," Robert Morris, the study's lead author, told
The Huffington Post.
Morris, associate professor of criminology at
UT Dallas, and his colleagues looked at crime rates for all 50 U.S.
states from 1990 to 2006. During this period, 11 states legalized
medical marijuana. The researchers examined legalization's effect on
what the FBI calls Part I crimes, which include homicide, rape, robbery,
aggravated assault, burglary, larceny and auto theft.
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 said. "In fact, for some
forms of violence -- homicide and assault -- we found partial support
for declines after the passing of this legislation."
Data for the
study came from state websites, FBI Uniform Crime Reports, the census,
The Bureau of Labor Statistics, The Bureau of Economic Analysis and the
The study did not explore a relationship between
marijuana use and violent crime, Morris said. Rather, the research team
looked at legalization's effect on crime. Other studieshave failed to establish a link between marijuana use and crime.
findings on the relationship between violence and marijuana use are
mixed and much of the evidence points toward reductions in violent
behavior for those who smoke marijuana," Morris said. "In fact,
researchers have suggested that any increase in criminality resulting
from marijuana use may be explained by its illegality, rather than from
the substance itself."
Other research suggests alcohol is a much more significant factor than marijuana when it comes to violent crime. A report
from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism found that
25 percent to 30 percent of violent crimes are linked to alcohol use. A separate study
in the journal of Addictive Behaviors noted that "alcohol is clearly
the drug with the most evidence to support a direct
intoxication-violence relationship," and that "cannabis reduces
likelihood of violence during intoxication." The National Academy of
Sciences found that in chronic marijuana users, THC -- the active
ingredient in pot -- actually causes a decrease in "aggressive and violent behavior."
in 20 states and the District of Columbia allow marijuana for medical
use. Colorado and Washington state have legalized marijuana for
recreational use. About a dozen other states are likely to legalize marijuana in some form in the coming years.
Elliott, executive director of the Marijuana Industry Group, said he
was pleased, but not surprised, by the new research.
"As a trade
association, we have supported the development of this comprehensive
regulatory framework, including transparency, accountability, licensing,
background checks, financial disclosures, seed to sale tracking, and
consumer safety protections like packaging, labeling, and testing,"
Elliott said. "While this program is cumbersome for the small business
owners in this industry, it is far better than choosing black market
operators who use violence to dominate the sale of marijuana and prey on
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