Legalizing Marijuana: The Great Debate

Grow the Economy by legalization ofmarijuanaYou’re sitting in a sports bar or local music venue with a couple of your friends, throwing back some bottles of Budweiser and laughing about some recently syndicated television show, when you noticed a rowdy man in the corner, pushing another man and babbling on about being the toughest guy in his MMA fighting school. Pop quiz: Is he high or drunk? A full blown brawl ensues, as fists are flying through the air, and you’re trying to duck for cover, would you think to yourself: “Wow, these people need to smoke less marijuana, they’re way too high.”?

I think nearly everyone, whether subconsciously or not, figures there’s more of a chance that some sort of terrible thing will happen when a group of people under the influence of alcohol are in a confined space for enough time, then if they were high on recreational marijuana. A large group of individuals are probably less likely to fight while high on THC than buzzed off of liquor, but of course, this is only my personal opinion. If only we had some of hard facts or evidence to back this theory up.

Of course, I can argue until I’m blue in the face that legalizing recreational marijuana will have a positive effect on crime rates in that state. If you apply this thinking, you have an entire state who is free to purchase pot whenever they want, and smoke it whenever and however they want as well. We wouldn’t be able to conduct any real research unless we keep tabs on every fist fight or heavy argument that happens to pop up over the course of the day. However, we can find some information on crime rates in the state, and perhaps compare the numbers to the previous year. Then, I could absolutely argue a fact like ‘the crime rates in Colorado are lower now that recreational marijuana has been legalized’, but still, someone could certainly counter that argument by saying that it’s purely a coincidence.

Coincidence? Well let’s see:

Since the very second recreational marijuana in Colorado was legalized, the crime started to drop. In fact, according to a recent report, during the first five months of 2014, violent crime in Denver was down 1.9% from the same time frame just a year earlier. Homicide, sexual assault, and robbery are all down since the prior year, leaving you to wonder where the coincidence in that rears its head. Property crime is down a whopping 11.5% from the first five months if 2013 as well. Coincidence?

According to Denver’s Department of Safety, burglaries and robberies are on track to hit a three year low, as reported by the Denver post, and overall crime in Denver is down 10.1% so far this year. It’s one thing to say how surprised I am that the state isn’t filling with crazed zombie people, because in reality, who actually thought that would happen? It’s also a completely different story to suggest that the lower crime rates in the state are simply due to the fact that recreational marijuana has been legalized. Five months is a small sample size, before someone brings that up, but evidence of a crime wave has just not materialized since sales began January 1st despite the wave of negative predictions to the contrary. Mostly from anti-marijuana advocates.

Before amendment 64 legalized recreational marijuana use in the state, officials were warning that legalization would have ‘harmful consequences’. “Expect more crime, more kids using marijuana and pot for sale everywhere,” Douglas County Sheriff David Weaver said in a 2012 statement. “I think our entire state will pay the price.” So far, it seems the only harmful consequence might be the local fast food employees working a little harder, and the only price that’s being paid is a little extra money for a second helping of double cheeseburgers. The murder rate has been cut in half since the year before as well, I feel like that’s worth noting. Being completely relaxed is generally not a trait that an aggressive person shows, and while this is just one person’s opinion, you can still look at the fact and use a little common sense to discover that recreational marijuana legalization is most likely a key factor in a decrease in crime in the region.

Just something to think about.

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