According to a new study, legalized marijuana—both medical and recreational—could possibly be reducing violence in border states.
States which border Mexico have seen their share of drugs headed to the United States—drugs which make billions for drug cartels and drug trafficking, which has caused a significant number of deaths. The Economic Journal published the study titled “Is Legal Pot Crippling Mexican Drug Trafficking Organizations?”
Thirteen Percent Drop in the Rate of Crime in Border States Which Have Legalized Marijuana
The study took a look at crime rates of states bordering the Mexican border in terms of the states’ decisions to legalize marijuana. Those states which have legalized cannabis for consumption, whether medically or recreationally, have seen their overall crime rates drop by an average of 13 percent. Even better, these same states have seen their homicide rates drop as well, since residents of the state no longer have to rely on black-market cannabis from Mexico, and all that entails.
Mexican Drug Cartels Have Slowed Down Smuggling Marijuana Into the U.S.
According to economist Evelina Gavrilova, in border states which have legalized marijuana, either recreationally or medically, local farmers now provide marijuana dispensaries which provide users with legal marijuana—and put a significant dent in the business of the cartels. As a result of less drug-smuggling, violent crimes seem to decrease on the U.S. side of the border, and possibly in Mexico as well. The Mexican drug cartels not only compete for “territory,” they also fight for the product.
California Sees the Highest Level of Reduction in Violent Crimes
California (which legalized medical marijuana in 1996, and recreational marijuana two decades later) has seen the highest overall reduction in violent crimes at 15 percent, while the state of Arizona (which has only legalized medical marijuana) has seen a reduction in violent crime by about 7 percent. When taken as a whole, border states with medical marijuana and/or recreational marijuana have seen robberies fall by nearly 20 percent, and homicides directly related to the drug trade have fallen by almost 41 percent.
Mexico Legalizes Medical Marijuana
Many in the United States are unaware that last summer the President of Mexico casually noted that Mexico had legalized medicinal cannabis, with nearly close to full support from their congress and senate. Since it has not been that long ago that President Pena Nieto came out in strong opposition to medical marijuana, the move was somewhat surprising. In April 2016, Pena Nieto noted that the solutions to control drugs and crime in his country as well as in the United States, have been insufficient. He added that it was time to move beyond prohibition to effective prevention.
Denying Medical Marijuana to U.S. Patients Increases the Use of Opioids
From a purely economic standpoint, the cost of denying medical marijuana to patients is believed to exceed the current value of the U.S. cannabis market--$7 billion. When you look at the bigger picture, prohibition of marijuana has affected the quality of life for Americans, as well as incarceration rates, and the increased use of opioids. Of course, the long-term effects of legalizing cannabis, whether medical or recreational are not yet known, but some data suggests that the Mexican cartels are now attempting to open their own “legal” marijuana operations in the state of California. Unfortunately, data also shows they are diversifying into growing poppies for the manufacture of heroin.
Report Summarizes Results of More Than 10,000 Cannabis Studies
Recently, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine “pre-released” a 440-page report which summarized the results from some 10,000 cannabis-related studies. The report offers insights from leading neurologists, child psychiatrists, oncologists and epidemiologists, essentially concluding that marijuana offers very real relief for those dealing with chronic pain, nausea from chemotherapy, relief from some types of seizures, and pain related to multiple sclerosis. These conclusions are in direct opposition to a federal ruling which kept cannabis in the Schedule I drug category—the highest level of restriction. This places marijuana in the same group as LSD and GHB, and also classifies it as “no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the U.S,” –a designation which clearly goes against most accepted medical research.
Should Marijuana Be Listed as a Schedule I Drug?
This categorization of marijuana as a Schedule I drug, has not only discouraged many researchers from applying for grant funding to study cannabis, it has made it a daunting proposition for scientists to study the drug. Because our current knowledge of the drug and the types of medical issues it benefits are limited, those regulatory barriers must be broken through in order to address the health and therapeutic issues associated with cannabis, along with the potentially adverse effects off the drug.
Government Grade Marijuana Discourages Testers
A further problem lies in the fact that even when researchers are able to obtain marijuana through legal government channels, “government-grade” marijuana is often considered to be low quality, containing only a fraction of the THC found in privately grown marijuana. Researchers say not only does this fact skewer their test results, it makes it difficult to get study subjects. While you might think it would be an easy matter to go to any college campus in the U.S. and find college students willing to smoke marijuana, in fact, many of these college students are already doing so, only they are smoking the “good” stuff—not government grade marijuana.
Border States with Lower Crime Rates May Pave the Way for Additional States
Researchers say the only way to determine the positive and negative effects of cannabis is for the government to allow them to study the drug in the way it needs to be studied, and this can only happen when the government relaxes its regulation of marijuana, and ceases to classify the drug as a dangerous, Schedule I drug. The fact that there appears to be a significant drop in violent crimes among the border states which have legalized marijuana—either medically or recreationally—could be an important first step to persuading the U.S. government to deregulate cannabis.
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Disclaimer: This blog is intended as general information purposes only, and is not a substitute for legal advice. Anyone with a legal problem should consult a lawyer immediately.