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Allison Whiting

Ms. Hunter

English 1201

28 February 2019

What Are The Effects of Legalizing Marijuana, Especially on Crime?

In a recent study, performed by Rebekah Levine Coley, who is chair of counseling,

developmental and educational psychology at Boston College’s Lynch School of Education and

Human Development, found that states with legalized medical marijuana have 1.1 percent fewer

teenagers smoking pot than states with no legal marijuana. That means for every 100

adolescents, a little over one of them would report not having used weed in the past month after

medical marijuana legalization. The data that the researchers analyzed was gathered from 1999

through 2015 from 45 different states and included over 860,000 students. The ultimate

conclusion they came to was that the longer marijuana had been legal in a state, the less likely

teens were to smoke it. In their final data they found that in states that had medical marijuana

legalized for five years, the odds were about 9 percent lower for teens to smoke weed. Compared

to states that had medical marijuana legalized for 10 years, the odds were about 32 percent lower

for teens to smoke weed. From this data, it had been proven that teens are less likely to utilize

weed after it has been legalized. This study demonstrates just one perk of legalizing weed.

Therefore, medical marijuana should be legalized for medicinal and recreational use across the

country because it is very beneficial as a medical treatment, legalizing weed reduces teen

marijuana use, it relaxes and lessens stress making people happier, and it reduces crime rates.

In 1996, California became the first state to legalize medical marijuana under the

supervision and prescription of a physician. This was referred to as the Compassionate Use Act.
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Since 1996, things have changed and now 33 out of 50 states have legalized medical cannabis,

and some recreational weed, too. The plant-based drug called cannabis dates back to the ancient

world. Marijuana was first known to be used medically around the time 400 A.D., but used

recreationally over 5,000 years ago in what is now Romania, a country in the Balkans. Weed was

first used medically in the United States in the 1850s, according to the United States

Pharmacopoeia. But in 1942, laws were put into place implementing legal penalties for

marijuana possession.

Marijuana has many uses that do not require you to get high. Many people refuse to look

at the positives of marijuana legalization because they are too stuck on the negatives and the fact

that people and teenagers use it just to get high. But marijuana has many positive medical uses as

well. If people took the time to research and understand the positives of medical marijuana, we

as a society would be healthier. There are several ways that marijuana can be implemented in the

medical industry. There are four main forms that weed is prescribed and taken as: a liquid

extract, smoked, vaporized, or eaten. The marijuana that comes in a liquid form is an extract of

cannabis concentrate which is topical and is most often prescribed form of pot. Second is

vaporized marijuana. This is consumed in the form of a cannabis vaporizer or “vape,” which

heats up the weed and then the smoke is inhaled. Marijuana can also be eaten, usually in the form

of brownies, candy, or cookies. And finally, the most common form, but not the most prescribed

form, smoked.

Barth Wisely, MD, a specialist in pain medicine at the University of California Davis

Medical Center says that most people ask for marijuana prescriptions for pain like headaches,

nerve pain, or diseases like cancer and glaucoma. But medical marijuana can be used to treat

more than just pain. Every day doctors prescribe medicinal weed to treat muscle spasms,
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multiple sclerosis, nausea, cancer, anorexia, seizure disorders, Alzheimers and Crohn's disease,

and HIV/AIDS. In an article written by David L. Nathan, H. Westley Clark, and Jocelyn Elders,

the positives of medical marijuana are discussed. All three authors have a medical degree. In the

article, the three scholars state that it is time for federal law to change and legalize marijuana for

good. As of December 2017 when the article was published, 29 states had made weed legal for

medicinal uses and 8 states made it legal for any kind of use. They state that more than 60% of

Americans favor marijuana legalization. The article talks about how weed prohibition has done

more damage to public health than marijuana itself. This means that weed being illegal has been

more harmful to people than weed being legal and used. They say that during alcohol

prohibition, alcohol consumption decreased. But marijuana use has increased during prohibition.

With all of the evidence of medical marijuana helping people cope and cure many different

illnesses, it is hard to still agree that medical marijuana should not be legalized. But still, many

people think that it should remain or become illegal again in all states.

Along with marijuana being a beneficial medical treatment and lowering teen pot use, it

also substantially lowers crime rates. It is discussed that legalized marijuana is tied to lower

crimes like assault and murder. In 2014, The University of Texas in Dallas did a study on the

connection between crime rates and states that have legalized marijuana. The researchers

analyzed data from all 50 states from the year 1990 to 2006. In that time span, there were eleven

states that had legalized medicinal marijuana: Washington, Vermont, Rhode Island, Oregon,

Nevada, Montana, Maine, Hawaii, Colorado, California, and Alaska. Their findings were that

there was no increase in crime in the states that had legalized medical marijuana. The researchers

came to the conclusion that there was no increase, but in certain states, there was a decrease in

some violent crime such as homicide and assault.

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There was also another study performed by a team of economists titled “Is Legal Pot

Crippling Mexican Drug Trafficking Organizations? The Effect of Medical Marijuana Laws on

US Crime,” and their results were shocking. They found that in the states along the Mexican

border that have legalized the medical use of weed, violent crime has dropped an average of

13%. The research showed marijuana laws were the most effective in California crime with a

15% reduction in violence. The least impacted state in the study was Arizona with just a 7%

drop, but that is still a good amount of decreased crime. Also, in those same states, the amount of

robbery dropped by 19%, and murder fell by 10%. This study even found that homicides that are

not related to drug trafficking dropped by a whopping 41%. As a whole, the article stresses that it

is better to regulate marijuana and allow citizens to pay taxes on it rather than make it legal when

the crime rates are so significant.

In a third article written by Pullman, an author from Washington State University in July

2018, it is discussed how David Makin, assistant professor in WSU’s Department of Criminal

Justice and Criminology, views the topic of marijuana and crime. Makin completed a study

finding that after legalization in a state, a series of things happen. Arrest rates for possession of

marijuana drop a considerable amount. After legalization in 2012, the rates dropped nearly 50%

in Colorado and over 50% in Washington. Also, the study found that violent crime clearance

rates shifted upwards, and motor vehicle theft and robbery rates increased, contradicting what

other sources and studies have found. It is very important for people to understand that marijuana

is not a drug that makes people get high and go crazy. It relaxes people and makes them think

more logically.

Most people who have done their research would agree that legalizing medical marijuana

is the way to go. But, there are some downfalls to this controversial legalization. An article was
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written by Jim Gerhardt, an Arizona citizen who works in a unit that specifically targets drug

trafficking organizations. He writes in the Arizona Capitol Times that legalizing marijuana did

not end the black market or even slow its growth. The legalization of it Colorado just gave

marijuana and the illegal drug cartel a place to thrive, allowing more crime. There was also

another article addressing the crime increase written by Bradley Zint, an author from the Los

Angeles Times. This article discusses a new study performed by UCI's Mireille Jacobson and

USC professor Tom Y. Chang concerning legalized marijuana and reduced crime rates. In their

study, they found that near Los Angeles dispensaries, there are immediate crime increases. They

say particularly property crime and theft robbery. Another reason as to why people may be

opposed to the legalization is because marijuana is the most commonly abused drug in the world.

Some people also compare legalizing marijuana to legalizing gambling. They say that legalizing

gambling did not reduce the amount of illegal gambling in the United States, but increased it.

This would correlate to marijuana because legal weed would just pave the way illegal trafficking.

After illustrating the reasons why marijuana should not be legalized, and the reasons why

pot should be legalized, it is obvious that the positives outweigh the negatives. Medicinal

cannabis can be used to treat so many different illnesses, disorders, and diseases like muscle

spasms, multiple sclerosis, nausea, cancer, anorexia, seizure disorders, Alzheimers and Crohn's

disease, and HIV/AIDS. Cannabis comes in many different forms and options so there is

something for everyone. Legalized marijuana and its connection to lowered crime rates have also

been studied by many different scholars. The majority of studies concluded that states with

legalized marijuana have lowered or lessened the amount of crime compared to before the

marijuana was legalized. In conclusion, medical marijuana should be legalized for medicinal and

recreational use across the country because it is very beneficial as a medical treatment, legalizing
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weed reduces teen marijuana use, it relaxes and lessens stress making people happier, and it

reduces crime rates.

This graph illustrates the percentage of U.S. citizens that believe marijuana should yes, be

legal, or no, illegal. Statista asked people a simple, and very opinionated question, “Should the

use of marijuana be legal or not?” This graph indicates that over the past nine years, the

acceptance percentage and percentage of people who think marijuana should be legalized has

drastically increased. This data can be analyzed in many different ways. In the late 1960s and

early 1970s, the public acceptance of marijuana was very low. Only 12% of people thought that

marijuana should be legalized. While on the other hand, a whopping 84% said no marijuana

should not be legalized or used. But in the early 2010s, something big changed. More people

started accepting legalized marijuana use. The data shows how gradually, more people started to

say yes to legal weed and fewer people said no. The people in favor eventually began to overrule

the people who were not in favor of the legalization. In 2017, the data has nearly flipped. Now,

64% of people are in favor of legalized marijuana, while 34% and not in favor. The data
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collected from this poll is just one way of proving that the thought of legalizing marijuana is

becoming more socially acceptable.

When people hear the word ‘marijuana,’ the word yes or no most likely comes to their

mind. As a society, America has very mixed opinions on legalizing medical and recreational

marijuana. Although over the past 10 years the statistics have drastically changed. Many people

now are accepting marijuana, and many states have taken action in some form to make it legal.

There are so many benefits that come along with marijuana, it is crazy not to think it is logical to

legalize cannabis. Even just for medical use, it does a lot more help than harm. Medical

marijuana should be legalized for medicinal and recreational use across the country because it is

very beneficial as a medical treatment, legalizing weed reduces teen marijuana use, it relaxes and

lessens stress making people happier, and it reduces crime rates.

Works Cited
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Helps Inform Debate as Restrictions on Pot Use Continue to Ease, Researchers Say.”

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doi:10.1002/cpu.30266. Accessed 3 February 2019.

“Study: Marijuana Legalization Improves Clearance Rates for Police.” Cabeza, Garrett.

Moscow-Pullman Daily News (ID), 26 July 2018. EBSCOhost,

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Shepard, Edward M., and Paul R. Blackley. Journal of Drug Issues, vol. 37, no. 2,

Spring 2007, pp. 403–424. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1177/002204260703700209. Accessed 3

February 2019.

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