Researchers at the University of Texas published an article in PLOS ONE today that indicates that despite opponents’ fears, legalizing medical marijuana does not increase crime and may actually lower some types of violent crime. The study examined FBI Uniform Crime Report statistics on murder, rape, assault, robbery, burglary, larceny and auto theft from all 50 states, including 11 states that legalized medical marijuana during the course of the study, over a 17 year period from 1990-2006.
Controlling for confounding factors, they found no increases in any category of offense and even saw a slight decrease in homicides and assaults.
The study is reminiscent of a University of Chicago study that came out last year showing that, despite opponents’ warnings about increases in unsafe driving behaviors, legalizing medical marijuana was associated with a drop in traffic fatalities.
In addition, preliminary figures in Colorado and Washington, the two states to have legalized and regulated marijuana for recreational use, show traffic fatalities in those states have slightly decreased the first year of full legalization.
“It must be difficult to be an opponent of marijuana reform. They can’t make arguments against legalization based on logic and facts so they must constantly resort to fear-based hypotheticals and anecdotes that keep getting proved wrong by systematic study. I feel for them. I really do,” said Major Neill Franklin (Ret.), a police officer for 34 years who now heads Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, a group of law enforcement officials opposed to the war on drugs.