Study: Adult Use Marijuana Laws Associated With Reduced Criminal Activity
Bologna, Italy: The enactment of adult use marijuana regulatory laws is associated with reduced levels of property crimes and violent criminal activity, according to data published in the Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization.
Investigators from Italy's University of Bologna evaluated the association between the enactment of adult use regulations and county level crime rates in jurisdictions in close proximity to the Washington/Oregon border during the years 2010 to 2014. Researchers reported that crime rates fell significantly in counties in Washington, where voters enacted legalization in 2012, compared to proximate counties in Oregon - where voters rejected a similar initiative proposal that same year.
Specifically, legalization was associated with a decline in thefts, property crimes, and rapes. Authors attributed the crime reduction to several potential factors, including less alcohol consumption and the reallocation of police resources.
They concluded: "The concern that legalizing cannabis for recreational purposes may increase crime occupies a prominent position in the public debate about drugs. Our analysis suggests that such a concern is not justified."
Their conclusions are consistent with those of prior studies finding that marijuana regulatory schemes are associated with reduced criminality and a decrease in alcohol consumption.
Full text of the study, "Crime and the legalization of recreational marijuana," appears in the Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization.
Poll: Americans Believe That Alcohol Poses Greater Risks To Health Than Cannabis
Asbury Park, NJ: By a margin of three to one, Americans say that booze is more dangerous than is marijuana, according to a nationwide Rasmussen Reports poll.
Forty-six percent of respondents perceived alcohol to be more dangerous than marijuana, versus only 15 percent of respondents who said that cannabis is most dangerous. Thirty percent of respondents said that both substances pose equal dangers to health.
The poll possesses a margin of error of +/-3 percentage points.
In a January 2018 Wall Street Journal/NBC News survey, respondents were more likely to rank the use of tobacco, alcohol, and sugar as substances that possessed greater harms than cannabis.
Under federal law, the marijuana plant is categorized as a 'Schedule I' controlled substance - defined as possessing a "high potential for abuse," a "lack of accepted safety," and "no currently accepted medical use ... in the United States." By contrast, both tobacco and alcohol are unscheduled.
Survey: More Than Seven In Ten Practicing Physicians Back Medical Marijuana Option
New York, NY: More than seven in ten practicing physicians support allowing qualified patients the option to use cannabis therapeutically, according to survey data published in the journal Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research.
New York University investigators surveyed the attitudes of practicing physicians in New York State. Seventy-one percent of respondents said that cannabis ought to be legal for medical purposes, and 76 percent acknowledged having patients who reported using marijuana for symptomatic relief at some point in their lives. Eighty-four percent of respondents said that they believed that opioids posed greater risks to patients' health than cannabis.
The statewide findings are consistent with those of a 2014 nationwide WebMD survey of over 1,500 doctors which reported that a majority of physicians endorse the use of medical cannabis.
New Orleans: Marijuana Arrests Plummet Post-Decriminalization
New Orleans, LA: Minor marijuana possession arrests have plunged in the city of New Orleans following the adoption of a municipal ordinance one year ago that called for fining rather than arresting low-level offenders.
According to citywide data, just one percent of encounters between police and someone accused of possessing marijuana resulted in an arrest between June 2016 and May 2017. In prior years, over 70 percent of such encounters resulted in an arrest. In those cases, some 75 percent of those arrested were African Americans.
Under Louisiana state law, minor marijuana possession offenses are punishable by a term of incarceration of up to eight years, depending on whether the person convicted is a repeat offender.
In March of last year, members of the New Orleans city council voted 7 to 0 in favor of legislation permitting police to cite rather than arrest minor marijuana offenders (defined as those who possess 14 grams or less), including repeat offenders. First-time violators are subject to a $40 fine while subsequent offenders may face fines of up to $100. In recent years, nearly 60 municipalities in states where cannabis remains criminalized have enacted local ordinances either partially or fully decriminalizing minor marijuana possession offenses.
Legislation (HB 611) is currently pending in the Louisiana House of Representatives to decriminalize the possession of up to one ounce of cannabis, along with the possession of marijuana-related paraphernalia, statewide.
According to a study published last month by the National Bureau of Economic Research, the enactment of recent statewide decriminalization laws has similarly resulted in a dramatic decrease in marijuana arrests while having no adverse impact on youth use patterns.