Does legal weed make police more effective?
Marijuana legalization in Colorado and Washington state has “produced some demonstrable and persistent benefit” to police departments' ability to solve other types of crime, according to researchers at Washington State University.
“Our models show no negative effects of legalization and, instead, indicate that crime clearance rates for at least some types of crime are increasing faster in states that legalized than in those that did not,” the authors write in a study published in the journal Police Quarterly.
A crime is typically considered “cleared” if authorities have identified and arrested a suspect and referred him to the judicial system for prosecution. The Washington State study examined clearance rates for crimes in Colorado and Washington from 2010 through 2015, using monthly FBI data.
To isolate the effects of legalization, the researchers looked at how the trends in clearance changed after the implementation of marijuana legalization in November 2012 in Colorado and December 2012 for Washington. While recreational markets in these states didn’t open until 2014, provisions allowing for personal possession and use took effect shortly after the votes were certified.
The chart above shows violent crime clearance rates before and after legalization in Colorado in Washington. Clearance rates were falling in both states before legalization. Afterward the decline stabilized in Colorado and began to reverse itself in Washington. The authors note that no similar shift happened in the country as a whole.
The researchers stress, however, that the data can’t prove conclusively that legalization directly caused the changes in clearance rates. There could have been other changes to policing in those states during that time period, such as increased use of overtime hours, the implementation of new policing strategies or a more aggressive focus on certain types of crime.
They note, however, that no other major changes to public policy happened in those states that would affect clearance rates in the way they observed. “We think the argument that legalization did, in fact, produce a measurable impact on clearance rates is plausible,” they conclude.
Full Article By: Washington Post