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Study: Medical Marijuana Legalization Doesn’t Increase Crime


marijuana arrest prison drug drugsAn argument that marijuana reform opponents almost always cling to is that legalizing marijuana (recreational and medical) will lead to more crime. It’s an argument that has been used since the dawn of reefer madness. I actually had someone e-mail me recently to tell me that when people smoke marijuana, they will do whatever they can to get more, including assaulting people and robbing them of their money. I had to explain to the person that we are talking about marijuana, not meth. I didn’t receive a response.

According to a study released yesterday, legalizing medical marijuana does not increase violent crime. The study was conducted by PLOS One. The study relied on U.S. state panel data, and analyzed the association between state medical marijuana laws and state crime rates collected by the FBI. The concluded the following:

Results did not indicate a crime exacerbating effect of medical marijuana laws on any of the Part I offenses. Alternatively, state medical marijuana laws may be correlated with a reduction in homicide and assault rates…

I wonder if Kevin Sabet and his friends saw this? It’s going to be very hard for them to try to spin this study in a way that favors their opposition to medical marijuana reform. People like Kevin Sabet want to throw you in rehab for using medical marijuana. That’s going to be a lot harder as the truth continues to slap them in the face.


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Johnny Green


  1. Certainly. Here are the citations:

    Anderson, D. Mark, Benjamin Hansen, and Daniel I. Rees. “Medical marijuana laws, traffic fatalities, and alcohol consumption.” Journal of Law and Economics 56.2 (2013): 333-369.

    Anderson, D. Mark, Daniel I. Rees, and Joseph J. Sabia. High on life? Medical marijuana laws and suicide. No. 6280. Discussion Paper series, Forschungsinstitut zur Zukunft der Arbeit, 2012.

    Here are pdfs of the papers, if you would like to read them:

  2. I’m sure there is a correlation between cannabis and a reduction in violent crimes, although it’s probably a combination of several factors explaining the variance — people are using cannabis more (which certainly dulls violent impulses) and using alcohol less (which certainly spikes violent impulses).

    The 2012 studies by Anderson and Rees in which they analyzed data from medical cannabis states showed that medical cannabis states, on average, see a 5% drop in beer sales. The correlations that interested me the most in their research were the 9% median drop in DUI fatalities and the 9% drop in male suicides they observed in medical cannabis states (two other prohibition talking-points bite the dust).

    Just imagine what the numbers are going to look like after a decade of recreational use, without the access limitations of medical cannabis programs. Violent crime stats could plummet. Kevin Sabet (if he’s not unemployed by then) will be walking back his nonsense so quickly that he’ll leave skid marks.

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