Legal marijuana can reduce crime, improve law enforcement resources


opinion

With homicide rates and gun violence rising nationwide, law enforcement faces significant challenges. It stands to reason that police departments that are freed from marijuana arrests will have more resources to devote to serious crimes. 

According to a June 2020 study by the National Institute of Justice on the Effects of Marijuana Legalization on Law Enforcement, “legalization has apparently coincided with an increase in crime clearance rates in several areas, suggesting that legalization may result in a net positive redistribution in police human resource allocation. In addition, fewer persons are being processed by the criminal justice system on nonviolent marijuana possession offenses.”

According to researchers from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service and Appalachian State University, “Our results indicate that medical marijuana laws result in significant reductions in both violent and property crime rates.”

The establishment of a highly regulated adult use market would allow police departments to reallocate resources and reduce the illicit market.

In June, the U.S. Sentencing Commission released analysis that found Federal marijuana trafficking cases continued to decline in 2020 as more states have legalized. Other studies have shown that state-level marijuana legislation has significantly undercut marijuana smuggling.

We urge Pennsylvania lawmakers to pass adult use legislation that would allow for the reallocation of critical police resources and reduce the illicit cannabis market in the Commonwealth. 

Meredith Buettner is executive director of the Pennsylvania Cannabis Coalition. 



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