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Cannabis Legalization In One State Does Not Lead To Higher Crime In Neighbor States

When a state legalizes marijuana, it doesn't lead to higher crime in neighboring states, a new study finds. Yet another marijuana myth is buried.

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A new study has found that just because one state legalizes marijuana, it doesn’t mean crime will go up in neighboring states. In fact, researchers found that crime went down, undermining a longstanding anti-legalization argument.

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The study focused on the border counties in neighboring states to Colorado and Washington, the first two states to legalize recreational marijuana. They contrasted crime rates in those counties to crime rates in other counties of neighboring states that did not border Colorado and Washington.

They found no higher crime rates in those border counties. Additionally, they found that cannabis legalization seemed to have a positive impact.

Related: There Is A Town In North California Called Weed

“Results provide some evidence suggesting a spillover crime reduction effect of legalization, as reflected by the significant decreases in the rates of property crime, larceny, and simple assault in the Colorado region that includes six neighboring states,” the researchers wrote.

Researchers dug through crime figures to develop the study’s findings.

The findings blow apart a theory pushed by anti-legalization advocates that making cannabis legal causes higher crime rates not only in the state where legalization occurs but also in all the neighboring states. 

Researchers from the University of Utah, the University of Mississippi, and the Thomas Roney economic consulting firm based in Dallas conducted the study. They undertook the deep-dive research into crime because of the ongoing debate around marijuana legalization and its impact on public safety.

Researchers looked primarily at data from the Uniform Crime report from 2003 to 2017. They found significant reductions in crime in the six states surrounding Colorado. For example, the border counties in non-legal states saw 393 fewer cases of property crime per 100,000 residents and 277 fewer larceny crimes per 100,000 residents.

The data backs up advocates who argue that legalizing marijuana drops crime rates because it eliminates or, at least, reduces the illegal weed business.

Related: How Did Oklahoma Become The Country's Hottest Cannabis Market?

The new study is the latest in a series of myth-busting studies.

With more research happening in cannabis than ever before, science is starting to catch up to myth when it comes to weed. The last remnants of the “Reefer Madness” era of the mid-20th century are beginning to disappear.

For example, a recent study found that the idea cannabis use lowers IQ is a myth. That came as no surprise to those that remember Carl Sagan and the late Dr. Lester Grinsppon were both cannabis advocates.

Another study found that rather than make people lazier, cannabis actually makes people focus much better during their workouts and may lead to them exercising more.

As for the issue with counties in non-legal states bordering legal states, there’s another statistic that has emerged that is based in fact, not a myth. The state of Oregon, where both medical and recreational marijuana is legal, reported that sales have skyrocketed along the border with Idaho because Idahoans often travel into Oregon to buy marijuana. Marijuana remains illegal for any purpose, including medical, in Idaho.

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