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Has legalizing pot in Colorado spawned an uptick in crime?

Individuals and groups across the country that are opposed to marijuana legalization repeatedly voice a similar refrain when they address the relaxed legal regimes operative in an ever-growing number of states.

Their dire warnings about liberalized marijuana schemes center around this predominant argument: Decriminalization will spawn a crimewave across multiple dimensions. Arguments are typically made that softening the penalties linked with pot possession and use will yield an uptick in domestic abuse incidents, carnage suffered in accidents involving stoned drivers, property theft and broad-based violent crimes.

Has that turned out to be the case? Can that concern now be objectively evaluated in the wake of pot’s legalized recreational use in 11 states and Washington, D.C.? Colorado was of course a trailblazer concerning a legalized program. Can the results of its initiative and similar programs that have been steadily approved by voters in other states be presently assessed from the perspective of whether legalization has had a material effect on crime levels?

Researchers say they can, and they rely centrally upon crime data culled from FBI files over a number of years to guide their findings in a notable recent study. That close look at the “pot and crime” question focuses specifically on relevant crime data that has emerged in Colorado and Washington following the implementation of their early legalization platforms. Research scientists working together in a multiple-university effort reportedly applied “robust empirical methods to parse out the effects” of legalization.

Their findings are both interesting and instructive. We’ll take a look at them in our next blog post.

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