Sun. May 19th, 2024

By Donna Westfall – March 27, 2017 –

For 5 years, cannabis has been legal in Colorado and Washington state. For 2 years it has been legal in Washington, D.C., almost 2 years in Oregon state, and 1 year in Alaska.

In actuality, while the vote(s) were taken in Washington and Colorado in 2012, the laws were not put into effect until 2014.

23 states still prohibit cannabis outright, but the remaining states have either legalized medical marijuana or decriminalized marijuana possession.

The crime statistics are showing a definite trend:

Washington, D.C.:  Possession arrests decreased 98 percent in 2015 from the previous year and overall arrests on any marijuana related charge are down 85 percent.

Denver, Colorado: In 2010, which was two years before the legalization of marijuana, Colorado prosecutors filed over 11,000 charges alleging a violation of marijuana laws. in 2014 the number of charges dropped to around 3,500 charges. Additionally, through October 2015, these charges dropped even more, to about 2,100. Denver is the center for legal pot sales. Automobile break-ins went from 2,317 to 1,477, which represents a 36 percent decrease. Homicides went from 17 to 8, which is a 53 percent decrease, and sexual assaults went from 110 to 95 — a 14 percent drop.

What about tax revenues to the states?

By the second year of legalization, marijuana tax revenues exceeded projections in both Colorado and Washington. In the most recent fiscal years, recreational marijuana brought in $129 million in taxes in Colorado and $220 million in Washington.

What about other savings?

  • In Washington state  – now saving millions of dollars in law enforcement resources that were previously used to enforce marijuana laws.
4 thoughts on “Legalization of cannabis shows most crime stats down”
  1. Donna, I would be a bit more cautious about saying that crime is down based on statistics following the legalization of Cannabis in Colorado and Washington State.
    While it should be true that cannabis related crimes are down, it is a much different kettle of fish when you say crime in general is down. Both states experienced a bit of increased population following the legalization of cannabis, yet you can find a number of reliable statistical sources that show an increase per capita in crime in both states, particularly in the last two years. Colorado has for a number of years had rather high numbers of crimes per capita when compared to other states. I think they normally rank around 12th highest in the nation. The recent influx has done very little to quell that trend. Most of the sources claiming reduction in crime in both states come early in the game and things are back to business as usual in the most recent reporting. Much of the crime that can be attributed to cannabis legalization is relatively unknown, particularly when it relates to driving. While overall crime in Colorado can be viewed in a number of ways statistically, most sources I have seen show increases across the board for the last couple of years. Mind you, I am not attributing this increase to cannabis legalization as the jury is still out on that one. Washington has done much better until last year when there was a slight uptick in crime. All I am saying is that in the five years that cannabis has been legalized, statistical rationalizations for both states are a mixed blessing, not all bad, not all good.

    1. I agree that that statistics vary and I admittedly have not spent much time researching the topic and I probably never will; would you like to join DNGA ,, as our statistics advisor? Membership is free!
      I can speak about my neighborhood and the growing community here. Until just recently, if there was a suspicious person, dangerous activity, theft, or even violence, it would go unreported; the glass house effect. Now that people don’t have to worry so much about what’s in the garden, the community here is welcoming in normal life such as permitted development, environmental consideration, and a visible police presence along with our neighborhood watch. My rural neighborhood is safer and better now and I look forward to that trend continuing under an intelligently drafted ordinance!

      1. Couldn’t agree more. Clearly there is much to learn from both Colorado and Washington with respect to their individual cannabis experiences. One thing to note is a relatively large amount of new tax revenue available for governments in both states. Now all we have to do is to get governments to spend it wisely, a near impossible task. Seems the more money governments have to spend, the more that money gets frittered away for no good reason.

        The Colorado experience with crime does refer to some neighborhoods being able to make great strides toward newer and safer neighborhoods, but almost in the same breath refer to other areas going in the other direction. I do know that in the area my son lives in Western Washington, not much has changed with legalization, yet drug and related drug problems continue to occupy law enforcement for the most part if not to a greater degree. Problem is that now cannabis has become legal, drug users are turning towards different and harder drugs. Mind you no one is saying its related as the evidence is not clear, but that seems to be the trend. Also cannabis drug use is causing more visits to emergency rooms for drug abuse, something that proponents didn’t see coming. It seems we will just have to give it time and see just what actually shakes out.

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