Weed Legalization Gives Police More Time to Focus on Crime

A recent study shows that legalization has benefited police departments in the two states, by freeing up resources for officers to solve more serious types of crime.

A recent study shows that legalization has benefited police departments in the two states, by freeing up resources for officers to solve more serious types of crime.

Washington and Colorado became the first U.S. states to legalize marijuana for recreational use in 2012. Since then, both supporters and opponents of legalization have noted the consequences as other states begin to reconsider their attitude to drug prosecution. 

The researchers indicated, “our results suggest that, just as marijuana legalization proponents argued, the legalization of marijuana influenced police outcomes, which in the context of this article is modeled as improvements in clearance rates."

The study used FBI data on Colorado and Washington from 2010 to 2015 to study crime clearance rates. Before legalization, crime clearance rates were falling in those states. However, after legalization, crime clearance started to increase.

The journal, Police Quarterly, stated: “Our models show no negative effects of legalization and, instead, indicate that crime clearance rates for at least some types of crime are increasing faster in states that legalized than in those that did not.”

The study can't be indefinitely conclusive to linking the increase in crime clearance rates to marijuana legalization.

The researches wrote, “We think the argument that legalization did, in fact, produce a measurable impact on clearance rates is plausible.”


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