Study: No Increased Crime In Medical Marijuana States

Wellington, New Zealand: The enactment of US laws regulating the sale and use of cannabis for medical purposes is not associated with any uptick in the rate of violent crime or property crime, according to data compiled by researchers at the University of Victoria and the Motu Economic and Public Policy Research Institute in New Zealand.

Investigators analyzed FBI crime data from the years 1988 to 2013 to assess the potential impact of medical marijuana legalization schemes on rates of murder, forcible rape, aggravated assault, burglary, and larceny. Researchers reported that neither the establishment of dispensaries or an increase in adult marijuana use was associated with adverse outcomes on crime.

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

The findings are similar to previous reviews. For example, a 2012 study published in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs reported that the proliferation of medical cannabis dispensaries was not associated with any demonstrable increase in violent crime or property crime. A 2014 study published in the journal PLoS One reported that the legalization of medical marijuana was associated with a decrease in incidences of certain types of violent crime, such as homicide and assault.

For more information, please contact Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director, at: Full text of the study, “Joint culpability: The effects of medical marijuana laws on crime,” appears online.