Study: Legal Marijuana is Causing a Drop in Violent Crime

shutterstock 534676786
shutterstock 534676786

A new study by The Economic Journal found a drop in violent crime in states that border Mexico.

Last year, Attorney General Jeff Sessions claimed that “there’s more violence around marijuana than one would think.” A new study shows that legal marijuana could be causing way less violence than Sessions thinks. In fact, it could be significantly reducing violence overall.

A new study by The Economic Journal examined violent crime in states that have legalized medical marijuana laws (MMLs) and share a border with Mexico.


“MMLs allow people to grow and cultivate marijuana plants legally within the US,” Professor Evelina Gavrilova, one of the study’s authors, said according to The Independent.

“This means that people don’t need to buy illegal marijuana anymore so drug trafficking organizations (DTOs) have far fewer customers,” Gavrilova continued.

DTOs have been a significant source of violent crime for years in the U.S.

“Their namesake activity – the smuggling of illicit drugs – is known to be paired with extreme levels of violence, which DTOs use to contest the revenues in the drug market,” the study stated.

Some of the drops in violence could boil down to simple economics. Once consumers are presented a legal option to purchase marijuana, most will likely choose to stop obtaining it from the black market.

“As revenues decrease, so does the incentive to invest in violent activity,” the study said.

Robberies were down 19 percent in MMLs bordering Mexico. The murder rate dropped by 10 percent in those states. But the murder rate tied directly to drug crime plummeted by a whopping 41 percent.

Overall, these states experienced a 13 percent drop in violent crime. California saw the most significant drop with a 15 percent drop in violent crime. The drop in violent crime in Arizona was least pronounced, at 7 percent.

Inquiries to both the DOJ and DEA on this new data and how it could impact federal policy has not been returned.