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The Effect of Medical Marijuana Laws on Crime
March 27, 2014 10:41 PM   Subscribe

"Debate has surrounded the legalization of marijuana for medical purposes for decades. Some have argued medical marijuana legalization (MML) poses a threat to public health and safety, perhaps also affecting crime rates ... we analyzed the association between state MML and state crime rates ... Results did not indicate a crime exacerbating effect of MML on any of the Part I offenses. Alternatively, state MML may be correlated with a reduction in homicide and assault rates, net of other covariates." (Press Release)

"marijuana legalization may lead to a reduction in alcohol use ... it may turn out that substituting marijuana for alcohol leads to minor reductions in violent crimes that can be detected at the state level."
posted by save alive nothing that breatheth (22 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

 
"YOU DONT SAY!" replied millions of people who live in the real world.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 8:28 AM on March 28 [35 favorites]


BOP nails it.
posted by sfts2 at 8:34 AM on March 28


Wow. There is a single semi-insane comment, and the authors give it a careful, thorough, and exceedingly civil thrashing.

This study is good news, and tells us something that many people suspected already. The problem is that we have officials in law enforcement lobbying against legalization who are either ignorant of data and studies that they don't like, or who are intentionally lying about the state of the art on this issue. I suspect the latter; how could a supposed "expert" get in front of Congress and claim that marijuana is as dangerous as heroin unless they're just plain lying?
posted by 1adam12 at 8:54 AM on March 28 [2 favorites]


But what about our prison revenue? Won't somebody think of the lobbyists?
posted by odinsdream at 9:01 AM on March 28 [8 favorites]


I'm a very law-abiding guy - with one exception. My only contact with criminals is when I purchase drugs. If you legalized cannabis and psychedelics, I would have precisely zero reason to ever interact with criminals - if you just legalized cannabis, I'd only have rare reasons to interact with criminals. (I say "criminals" but these people are my friends who happen to have hit upon this method to make a living...)
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 9:10 AM on March 28 [3 favorites]


I was on the bus home last night, here in the land of legal weed that is Colorado, and a professional looking older woman came aboard and sat next to another respectable looking woman in the seats ahead of me. I heard the one who just boarded turn to her seatmate and complain that one of the people at the bus stop smelled of weed and that "We have become the land of pot! I'm so worried about our children, that stuff kills your brain!" Without skipping a beat the other woman turns and says "Actually, I just bought some weed this morning down in Denver." She opened her purse and showed off her purchase and then turned away. Propaganda meets reality among the suburban commuters of Denver!

I love this place.
posted by boubelium at 9:15 AM on March 28 [40 favorites]


1adam12: "The problem is that we have officials in law enforcement lobbying against legalization who are either ignorant of data and studies that they don't like, or who are intentionally lying about the state of the art on this issue."

I suspect it's also do to the flow of that sweet, sweet DRUG WAR money coming into local agencies.
posted by Big_B at 9:21 AM on March 28 [3 favorites]


Every time I go to the dispensary I go to - a clean, well-lighted place with nice and helpful staff and customers/patients who will happily let the lady with the walker go to the head of the line - I am happy to see the diversity of people. It's not just young stoner dudes: it's old people and middle-aged people and all colors and genders of people, and people dressed really nicely in work-drag and people in sweatpants. All kinds of people, all of whom would like to stop being criminals.
posted by rtha at 9:23 AM on March 28 [12 favorites]


Propaganda meets reality among the suburban commuters of Denver!

Ha! Though I have sympathy for anybody dealing with stinky fellow travelers, and wish that all the cannabis and tobacco users would switch to vaporizers posthaste so that my commute would be a little less eye-watering.
posted by asperity at 9:25 AM on March 28 [1 favorite]


Do medical-marijuana laws save lives on the road?
A team of economists who specialize in health and risk behaviors looked at the link between marijuana laws and traffic deaths, and found that roadway fatalities dropped significantly in states after they legalized medical marijuana. On average, deaths dropped 8 to 11 percent in the first full year after the law went into effect, and fell 10 to 13 percent by year four.
...
The researchers offer two possible explanations for why more marijuana use could lead to less drunken driving. One is that pot smoking takes place in different circumstances than drinking. Drinking is legal, and drinks are served in many places that can only be reached by car. People drink at bars, restaurants, ball games, picnics, concerts, and just about any adult social gathering; then they drive home. Because recreational marijuana is still illegal in all but two states, it’s used in a much less open range of environments. In other words, people go out and drink, but stoners tend to stay home...

The other possible explanation is straightforward, if definitely not something you’re likely to hear from your local chapter of DARE: It could be that pot availability leads to drunk drivers being replaced with stoned drivers, and that stoned drivers are, on average, safer. In fact, while studies indicate that pot is just as bad as alcohol for distance perception, reaction time, and hand-eye coordination, it appears to be less of a danger in simulated and real-world driving tests. Driving high is by no means safe: A meta-analysis by the British Medical Journal early in 2012 found that drivers who were high on marijuana had nearly double the risk of a serious crash compared to sober counterparts. But driving drunk is worse, causing a tenfold increase in accident risk for drivers with a blood-alcohol concentration at the legal limit of 0.08, or a forty-eightfold increase at the old legal limit of 0.1. The researchers also point out that drivers under the influence of marijuana may “engage in compensatory behaviors” such as driving slowly, avoiding sudden, risky maneuvers, and staying well behind the car in front of them. Perhaps they are just more cautious than a drunk person would be, even though they are still impaired.
posted by alms at 9:25 AM on March 28 [1 favorite]


The problem is that we have officials in law enforcement lobbying against legalization

Anyone arguing against legalization is a cop-killer. Police officers have been known to lose their lives during confrontations with people involved in what could be, should be, and in some jurisdictions is, a legal activity.
posted by univac at 9:32 AM on March 28




wow, so prohibition leads to more crime? It's 1934 all over again!
posted by jenkinsEar at 9:48 AM on March 28 [2 favorites]


Because recreational marijuana is still illegal in all but two states, it’s used in a much less open range of environments. In other words, people go out and drink, but stoners tend to stay home...

Doesn't this mean the effect is spurious in light of legalization? Popular media taught me marijuana turns you into a happy, relaxed fool that won't bother driving anywhere, but if open use becomes common, you'll probably get just as many stoned drivers as you have drunk ones.
posted by Dr Dracator at 10:12 AM on March 28 [1 favorite]


It was back in the early 90s sometime, right at the beginning of summer. The police in Victoria BC made a huge marijuana bust, which effectively cut the local supply of the stuff for a few days anyway.

That weekend they had a drunken riot downtown for no reason any expert could correlate.
posted by philip-random at 10:15 AM on March 28 [2 favorites]


Most of the cannabis consumed by reliable sources close to this poster comes from a contact who knows someone who runs an occasional one-person grow-op. All - all - of the criminality in the entire supply chain, from production to distribution to consumption - comes from the mere fact that growing and possessing cannabis are criminal acts. There is no money going to organised crime, there are no bribes paid to customs officers or bent cops, nothing crosses borders, nobody shibs anyone over a deal gone wrong, and everyone involved is otherwise a benign, blameless, normal citizen running normal, benign, blameless lives of employment, taxes and civil participation.

I can state without fear of contradiction that decriminalisation here would lead to a decrease in criminal behaviour, with no displacement into other criminal acts. Even if there was a loss of income to the grower because the customers could get their goods more conveniently or at lower prices, it would be no more significant to them than the loss of a part-time job - unfortunate, but not going to push them into the demimonde
posted by Devonian at 10:48 AM on March 28 [2 favorites]


it would be no more significant to them than the loss of a part-time job
Why? I mean it would just be more like a CSA then... and your friend could get MORE customers and maybe branch out with their expertise. I kid but yeah I think it would just make it an easier sideline.
posted by mrgroweler at 10:53 AM on March 28


Driving high is by no means safe: A meta-analysis by the British Medical Journal early in 2012 found that drivers who were high on marijuana had nearly double the risk of a serious crash compared to sober counterparts. But driving drunk is worse, causing a tenfold increase in accident risk for drivers with a blood-alcohol concentration at the legal limit of 0.08, or a forty-eightfold increase at the old legal limit of 0.1. The researchers also point out that drivers under the influence of marijuana may “engage in compensatory behaviors” such as driving slowly, avoiding sudden, risky maneuvers, and staying well behind the car in front of them. Perhaps they are just more cautious than a drunk person would be, even though they are still impaired.

This seems to me the reason you see fatal accidents go down. About a third of fatal accidents are alcohol related, so assuming that under legalization half of these drunk drivers become stoned drivers instead and that the drunks are in the 10-fold increased category on average, the five-fold reduction in risk would work out to be about 12% of all driving fatalities.
posted by Mental Wimp at 12:06 PM on March 28


Are they paying taxes on their marijuana sales income, Devonian? If not, they are also tax fraud criminals. Not that I give a shit either way.
posted by mbatch at 1:09 PM on March 28


: "Are they paying taxes on their marijuana sales income, Devonian? If not, they are also tax fraud criminals. Not that I give a shit either way."

I'd wager that if they were operating a legal business at that scale, given the expenses of the operation (electricity for an indoor grow operation is not cheap), their tax liability would be close to zero. The biggest offense would probably be a failure to collect sales tax. However, state is voluntarily abandoning revenues by proscribing the very existence of the market. Devonian's point stands, regardless: the only actual criminality involved is the fact that they're doing something that's against the law.

When the law doesn't align with the behavior of innocent people, it's the law that's wrong, not the people.
posted by mullingitover at 2:53 PM on March 28 [1 favorite]






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