healthHealth and Medicine

Legalizing Marijuana Reduces Violent Crime According To A New Study


Dami Olonisakin

Editorial Assistant



There have been reports that since the legalization of marijuana in some US states, more and more people have been getting along. Okay, so maybe that’s an exaggeration, but what a new study has shown is that there has been a decline in violent crimes and murders in the states bordering Mexico where it is now legal, which is always good news.

The latest research published in The Economic Journal showed that crime has decreased by 13 percent on average in the states that border Mexico since approving marijuana for medical use alone.


As most of the marijuana that is sold in the US comes from Mexico, where it is smuggled across state lines by the seven major cartels that control the area, researchers wanted to know if decriminalizing marijuana affected crime in these states.

Evelina Gavrilova, an economist and study author told The Guardian that the new laws are allowing farmers to operate more successfully and safely because it’s allowing them to sell the marijuana legally to dispensaries. “These growers are in direct competition with Mexican drug cartels that are smuggling the marijuana into the US. As a result, the cartels get much less business.” Garilova said, suggesting less cartel activity leads to less violence in these border states.

The researchers looked at the FBI's Uniform Crime Reports and the DEA's Stride data between 1994 and 2012 and found that homicides affiliated to drugs in these states went down by 41 percent, while robbery decreased by 19 percent and murder declined by 10 percent. They also noted that it was California that showed the biggest difference in violent crime rates – a 15 percent drop – after the change in law, while Arizona showed the lowest at 7 percent. 

There are plenty of states that have made it legal to use marijuana, not only for medicinal purposes but also for recreational use too, including Alaska, California, Oregon, Maine, Washington, and Nevada. For some states, cannabis is only legal to those who are over 21 and over, and you are allowed to grow up to six plants, but only allowed to carry an ounce of it.


According to New Frontier Data, the legal cannabis market in the US is set to rise to at least $24.1 billion by 2025, a pretty big jump from the estimated $6.6 billion it was worth in 2016.

“When the effect on crime is so significant, it’s obviously better to regulate marijuana and allow people to pay taxes on it rather than make it illegal,” Gavrilova said. “For me, it’s a no-brainer that it should be legal and should be regulated, and the proceeds go to the Treasury.” 

On top of that, the study also noted a drop in violence in the states bordering the states where it's legal to sell and use marijuana, which they suggest is more evidence for the argument that legalizing marijuana is actually having a positive effect.


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