Republished with permission from The Weed Blog; Read the original article HERE.
A History of Marijuana
There has long been a link between marijuana and crime rates. Because there was always such a high demand and it is a drug with proven health benefits, marijuana has always the most popular illegal substance. Marijuana was banned in 1937 despite the advice of the American Medical Association. It has been used through history to alleviate a variety of different symptoms.
The current state of marijuana legality in the USA is that 29 states have legalized medical marijuana and 8 states have legalized recreational marijuana. In New York, there are over 1000 health therapists who are prescribing marijuana and almost 24,000 patients receiving the treatment. It is quite safe to say that most of these people use marijuana for recreational purposes rather than medical, as medical marijuana licenses and treatment is rather easy to obtain. Meanwhile, in Nevada, there is a state of emergency after the supply of recreational marijuana is set to run out, a mere two weeks after legalization
Marijuana Linked to Negative Crime Rates
The relationship between marijuana dispensaries and crime rates is not what it was once believed to be. In a bizarre twist of events, a study called “Going to Pot? The Impact of Dispensary Closures on Crime” has found that crime rates actually increase when marijuana dispensaries are shut down. This is a scientific verification of what every single cannabis user has always known for thousands of years – marijuana makes people happy and content, not to mention laid back. Study author Jacobson stated that:
“Our results demonstrate that the dispensaries were not the crime magnets that they were often described as, but instead reduced crime in their immediate vicinity”
In Los Angeles over 439 medical dispensaries were shut down in 2010, and the end result was an increase in crime, according to a study conducted at the University of California. The data was published in the Journal of Urban Economics and the criminal activity includes larceny and property crime, among other activities. The increase in crime was 12%, which is quite significant. Even more telling is that the increase was more or less immediate. The implication is that when people do not get marijuana they are more likely to resort to crime. And quite quickly. Even more telling is that crime rates increased in the areas nearest dispensaries. This is an obvious deduction from a plant with proven therapeutic properties which calms people down and provides emotional support. And the best, fastest and easiest way to reduce crime is to provide marijuana to angry criminals with emotional and mental issues which lead them to crime in the first place. Professor Chang stated that:
“When marijuana dispensaries were shut down, we found the opposite of what we were expecting … Crime actually increased in the areas that closed relative to the ones allowed to stay open”
The study is not the first to come to this conclusion, but previous studies mistakenly attributed the increase in crime due to the fact that there were no longer security cameras placed around the areas, as well as other protocols that discouraged criminal activity. In Colorado, the Denver police department noticed that crime was down 8.2% when a medical dispensary opened in the neighborhood, as compared to the previous year.
What is interesting is that the study also demonstrated that having businesses such as restaurants which are open are also liable to decrease crime rates, as typically crime rates spike when such businesses close. This is because patrons have a vested interest in the neighborhood as well as the employment and business provided which generally makes people happier. And there are also more eyes on the street. Obvious crime is not so achievable when there are many people walking the streets.
If the Trump administration goes ahead with plans to crackdown on medical dispensaries and to penalize use of recreational marijuana, this could easily see a large spike in crime rates. And this could well happen, though it is not all down to President Trump. Attorney General Jeff Sessions is threatening to go after marijuana with his special task force, as he deems marijuana to be a threat to the success of the nation. As silly as this statement sounds this is the Attorney General of the United States and ridiculous as it is, he can and likely will do severe damage to legitimate business people and consumers who are trying to consume a medical plant.
Marijuana and Morality
There never was any possible way that marijuana consumption could lead to an increased crime rate, when the only symptoms of usage was a more relaxed individual. What actually happened was that marijuana was made illegal, and when a perfectly natural substance is made illegal then people who use the perfectly natural substance and are now criminals using criminal substances. The statistics will show how marijuana is linked to crime, using terms such as “marijuana related crime”. But these statistics never revealed the full picture and served to conflate two very distinct things – Marijuana being one, and morality being the other. Marijuana may have been an illegal drug for a while, but this does not mean there was ever anything wrong with smoking marijuana. It is, at the end of the day, a plant that relaxes the body and brain.
The study findings do not actually mean that marijuana decreases crime rate, as this article suggests. The conclusion of the study is actually that opening any type of business is good for the local community and would lead to a decrease in the crime rate, such as a restaurant or book store, according to the study authors. The bystanders that are generated from opening any type of successful businesses will lead to a reduction of crime, typically in the areas of crime that the decrease was noted, such as car thefts and property crime.
However, this point can be respectfully disagreed with to a degree, as other studies have been conducted showing that states with legalized marijuana exhibit a reduction in crime. Further, Marijuana has long established therapeutic benefits and criminals would need this relief too for the well documented psychological effects. Many are forced into criminality because they do not have access to plants such as cannabis. These plants would enable such individuals to function better in society as their emotional, social, mental and communicative skills are improved. It is ironic that many turned to crime because they were denied access to medicinal grade marijuana and appropriate treatments. And they then end up peddling marijuana as well as other criminal activities to cope with their conditions. Hopefully this vicious circle will be broken with increased recreational and medical marijuana legalization across all US States where its adoption is welcome.
Author Bio: John Levy is a professional cannabis blogger and researcher. Currently, he is working with Pot Valet – a cannabis delivery service in California. John loves to share the useful and recent information about cannabis industry with others. Follow his company through the website or on Facebook