(CANNABISNEWSWIRE) For years, proponents of prohibition have argued that retail cannabis stores would cause a surge in crime in neighborhoods, with the potential to spill over into neighboring states. Previous studies supported this supposition, but new research shows that data may have been skewed.
The research was conducted by Guangzhen Wu of the University of Utah, Francis D. Boateng of the University of Mississippi, and Thomas Roney, an economic and statistical consultant based in Texas. The study, published in the Journal of Drug Issues, looked at before and after crime data in Washington and Colorado, seeking to discover how neighboring states were affected after the passage of adult-use cannabis laws. After studying data on crimes such as robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, larceny, and motor vehicle theft, the researchers found that legalizing cannabis may have actually reduced certain major crimes in nearby jurisdictions.
“We did not detect any increases in the rates of multiple types of crimes in border counties of the non-legalized states bordering Colorado and Washington,” wrote the authors of the study. “Moreover, we observed a substantial reduction in certain types of crimes, namely property crime, larceny, and simple assault, in border counties in the Colorado region. This finding challenges the argument legalization that legalization would increase crime.”
Existing research proving that legalizing cannabis increases crime rates is skewed and doesn’t account for all variables, the researchers say. Due to federal prohibition, banking institutions avoid working with the cannabis industry, forcing retail marijuana stores to operate on a cash-only basis. “As scholars have reasoned, the criminogenic effect of recreational marijuana dispensaries is largely attributable to the fact that marijuana sale is a cash-and-carry business, which exposes both the business and customers to criminal victimization,” says the study.
The researchers argue that decriminalization reduces crime instead, stating that it shrinks “the underground marijuana market that is believed to be fertile soil for violent crime.”