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Finally, crime statistics in light of cannabis legalization

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  • Finally, crime statistics in light of cannabis legalization

    One of the most persistent myths about cannabis usage is that it promotes or exacerbates criminal activity. This is tied in with other myths of cannabis' detrimental effects on society. And the problem is that everybody just takes these false "facts" for granted, based on sources perpetuated since old exploitation movies.

    Even since cannabis legalized for adult use in several US states, I've been eager to pounce on real-life, statistical data coming through. The trouble is, the mainstream media doesn't seem in much of a hurry to bring out studies debunking the old myths. It seems like news organizations, even the left-leaning ones, will be fast to report a crisis related to pot, but never tell us about how things are mostly running smoothly in the aftermath of cannabis legalization.

    Well, our old friends at have taken up the slack. I feel that NORML doesn't get enough credit; they were crusading for cannabis legalization since 1970 and their efforts continue now. So here's the good news:

    Legalizing cannabis doesn't increase crime or substance abuse!

    Analysis: Adult-Use Legalization Laws Not Linked to Increases in Violent Crime, Problematic Substance Abuse

    A team of economists researched all 50 states + DC to explore the broader impacts of legalized marijuana.

    They determined: “We find little compelling evidence to suggest that RMLs result in increases in illicit drug use, arrests for part I [violent] offenses, drug-involved overdoses, or drug-related treatment admissions for addiction. … Our findings provide key evidence evaluating the ongoing, occasionally contentious, political debate on legalizing marijuana use, and inform whether recreational marijuana use is a ‘gateway’ to addiction to harder drugs and criminal behavior.”

    Study: No Uptick in Violent Crime Following Adult-Use Cannabis Legalization

    Investigators affiliated with the Department of Justice and Criminology at Washington State University studied monthly average crime rates in Colorado and Washington following legalization compared to various control states.

    They reported, “[M]arijuana legalization and sales have had minimal to no effect on major crimes in Colorado or Washington. We observed no statistically significant long-term effects of recreational cannabis laws or the initiation of retail sales on violent or property crime rates in these states.”

    Review: Cannabis Retailers Not Linked To Elevated Crime Rates, Teen Use

    The Institute for Interdisciplinary Studies at Humboldt State University partnered with Leafly to study the impact of cannabis storefronts (dispensaries) on their local community.

    They reported: "Crime near licensed dispensaries has generally stayed flat or decreased, teen cannabis use in legal states has fallen since legalization, and property values near cannabis outlets generally are not affected or, in some cases, experience a greater value increase than comparable properties not near a cannabis outlet. … Despite the fears of those who want to ban cannabis stores, the published research finds that legal retailers are safe, responsible neighbors."
    The authors acknowledge the persistence of false claims around the impact of cannabis retailers on their local area. In many places, even in legalized states, this myth that cannabis retailers increase crime in the area still sets local policy, causing them to restrict where and how cannabis businesses can legally operate.

    The Myths of Cannabis Harm Have Had Decades To Propagate!

    If we want real change in society, it is not enough to just report these scientific findings once and be done with it.

    Since the passing of the "Marijuana Tax Act" of 1937, and the creation of the Controlled Substances Act in 1970, over 50 years of harmful slander of marijuana's reputation have flowed freely and unchecked. Propaganda and misinformation have shaped the public dialogue about marijuana for generations. In order to combat this, we need to get the truth of the harmlessness of marijuana legalization out there, and hammer it into the media again and again until these misconceptions are purged from the public consciousness.

    I know, we won't save the world this way. But we can give it a start. Save this post or the NORML Fact Sheet on cannabis legalization. Whenever you see somebody spreading a falsehood about marijuana, point them to this or counter them in public with this.

    Remember, the lies about marijuana have been repeated over and over for more than 80 years! To counter them, we are going to have to take the true facts about marijuana's benevolent and benign impact on society and likewise, repeat them over and over. Anybody reading this, who wants to see progress happen faster, can help on this front.

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