Legalizing marijuana gives police more time to clear real crimes
A new study shows that legalization has “produced some demonstrable and persistent benefit” to police departments in Washington and Colorado.
In 2012, Washington and Colorado became the first U.S. states to legalize marijuana for recreational use. Since, both supporters and opponents of legalization have closely tracked the consequences as other states begin to reconsider their approach to drug enforcement.
Now, a new study shows that legalization has “produced some demonstrable and persistent benefit” to police departments in the two states, seemingly by freeing up resources for officers to solve more serious types of crime.
“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 wrote in a study published in the journal Police Quarterly.
The researchers used FBI data on Colorado and Washington from 2010 to 2015 to study crime clearance rates, a measurement of how many crimes are solved by police. Before legalization, crime clearance rates were falling in the states. However, the rates seemed to stabilize and then increase following legalization—an effect not observed in the 48 other states.
The clearance rates of burglary and motor vehicle theft especially increased, authors noted.
“The clearance rate for these two offenses increased dramatically postlegalization,” the authors found. “In contrast, national trends remained essentially flat.”
Still, they said the study can’t conclusively link the increase in crime clearance rates to marijuana legalization. Other factors, like police overtime or different enforcement strategies, might have played a part, though they note that there were no clear changes to public policy that might have explained the changes they observed.
“We think the argument that legalization did in fact produce a measurable impact on clearance rates is plausible,” the researches wrote.
The idea that marijuana legalization would free up police resources is a common argument of marijuana legalization proponents. It makes sense given the numbers: In 2016, about 600,000 people nationwide were arrested for simple marijuana possession. That’s more people than were arrested for all violent crimes in the same year.
“Our results suggest that, just as marijuana legalization proponents argued, the legalization of marijuana influenced police outcomes, which in the context of this article is modeled as improvements in clearance rates,” the researchers wrote.
A number of states are expected to vote on marijuana-related bills this year, including Utah, Rhode Island, Illinois, and Michigan, which could see the drug legalized for recreational use in November.
Pay attention to the decisions made by the provinces.
- China leads the world in numerous green energy categories.
- CO2 emissions in the country totaling more than all coal emissions in the U.S. have recently emerged.
- This seems to be an administrative-induced blip on the way towards a green energy tipping point.
NASA astronomer Michelle Thaller is coming back to Big Think to answer YOUR questions! Here's all you need to know to submit your science-related inquiries.
Big Think's amazing audience has responded so well to our videos from NASA astronomer and Assistant Director for Science Communication Michelle Thaller that we couldn't wait to bring her back for more!
And this time, she's ready to tackle any questions you're willing to throw at her, like, "How big is the Universe?", "Am I really made of stars?" or, "How long until Elon Musk starts a colony on Mars?"
All you have to do is submit your questions to the form below, and we'll use them for an upcoming Q+A session with Michelle. You know what to do, Big Thinkers!
If you want to be a better and more passionate communicator, these tips are important.
If you identify as being a socially conscious person in today's age of outrage, you've likely experienced the bewildering sensation when a conversation that was once harmless, suddenly doesn't feel that way anymore. Perhaps you're out for a quick bite with family, friends, or coworkers when the conversation takes a turn. Someone's said something that doesn't sit right with you, and you're unsure of how to respond. Navigating social situations like this is inherently stressful.
Below are five expert-approved tips on how to maintain your cool and effectively communicate.
Calling all big thinkers!
- The next Mega Millions drawing is scheduled for Oct. 23 at 11 pm E.T.
- The odds of any one ticket winning are about 1 in 300 million.
- This might be a record-setting jackpot, but that doesn't mean you have a better chance of winning.
Or how I learned to stop worrying and love my tsundoku.
- Many readers buy books with every intention of reading them only to let them linger on the shelf.
- Statistician Nassim Nicholas Taleb believes surrounding ourselves with unread books enriches our lives as they remind us of all we don't know.
- The Japanese call this practice tsundoku, and it may provide lasting benefits.
Money makes the world go 'round. Unfortunately, it can make both children and adults into materialists.
- Keeping a gratitude journal caused children to donate 60 percent more to charitable causes.
- Other methods suggested by researchers include daily gratitude reflection, gratitude posters, and keeping a "gratitude jar."
- Materialism has been shown to increase anxiety and depression and promote selfish attitudes and behavior.
The Boring Company plans to offer free rides in its prototype tunnel in Hawthorne, California in December.
- The prototype tunnel is about 2 miles long and contains electric skates that travel at top speeds of around 150 mph.
- This is the first tunnel from the company that will be open to the public.
- If successful, the prototype could help the company receive regulatory approval for much bigger projects in L.A. and beyond.
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