Skip to content

Too Stoned?

I could never understand why marijuana was classified as a dangerous drug — so dangerous that it was illegal to even do any studies on it, or to prescribe it as a pain killer (even though much more powerful drugs like morphine were routinely used for pain relief). Why? Because opponents claimed that using marijuana would increase crime.

Now that around a dozen states have legalized marijuana for medical use, multiple studies have been done to find out what effects, if any, legal marijuana use has had.

To hardly anyone’s surprise, the studies show that legal access to medical marijuana does not result in any increase in crime. In fact, there is evidence that it is related to a decrease in violent crime. The theory is that substituting marijuana for alcohol reduces the crime rate for murder and assault. Also, the legalization of medical marijuana led to a 13% decrease in alcohol related traffic fatalities.

Two studies looked at the neighborhoods were medical marijuana dispensaries are located, and found that there was no evidence of any increases in violent crimes or property crimes.

And finally, while we only have data for the one state that has legalized the recreational use of marijuana, so far in the three months it has been legal there has been a slight dip in both violent and property crimes.

While it may be too early to reach a firm conclusion, the big point is that repeated studies have shown absolutely no evidence that legalizing marijuana leads to increased crime.

In a country where even presidents have admitted that they have used marijuana, isn’t it time to completely eliminate marijuana prohibition?



  1. Michael wrote:

    I saw a program on the history of the drug war once. While many people point out the racial disparities that exist now (e.g., black teens that get caught with pot are 3 times more likely to go to jail than white teens caught with pot). What most people don’t know is that the damn thing is racist all the way to its roots. Back in around the ’20s or ’30s, the big push for a federal law against marijuana came from the southwestern states like AZ and NM. Why? They wanted to have a reason to deport Mexican immigrants, and pot use was widespread among the immigrant community. With only a state law, all they could do was put them in jail. But if it were a federal crime, then it could be used in support of deportation.

    Tuesday, April 15, 2014 at 7:19 am | Permalink
  2. Iron Knee wrote:

    There is plenty of hard evidence linking the war on drugs and blatant racism. And it continues to this day. Why do you think the penalties for crack cocaine (used by minorities) are much harsher than the penalties for regular cocaine (used by white people).

    Tuesday, April 15, 2014 at 8:51 am | Permalink
  3. Lance Wakely wrote:

    I believe the first laws criminalizating marijuana were instigated by the alcohol industry at the end of prohibition in America. They did not want any competition from a product that anyone with a flower pot could grow.

    Tuesday, April 15, 2014 at 9:30 am | Permalink
  4. Iron Knee wrote:

    Is that true? I didn’t think it was that complicated to make alcoholic drinks.

    Tuesday, April 15, 2014 at 10:56 am | Permalink
  5. ebdoug wrote:

    In the 1960s, in Berkeley California, Mothers were asked if they would participate in a study to follow their babies after birth for the effects of Marijuana their mothers smoked during pregnancy. Those children are now in their late 40s. Whether the study was dropped or the control group and children from the marijuana smoking mothers was the same, I can’t tell you. I can tell you there was a study.

    Wednesday, April 16, 2014 at 6:20 am | Permalink
  6. Michael wrote:

    Here are some links to the history of criminalization in the U.S.:

    Wednesday, April 16, 2014 at 8:29 am | Permalink
  7. Jon wrote:

    More pesky facts…

    Thursday, April 17, 2014 at 2:23 pm | Permalink