America is gradually taking a softer -- or, at least, less harsh -- stance against recreational use of marijuana, or cannabis. Some of the largest cities have begun to either completely legalize smoking weed or reduce the penalty for consuming it.
But the anti-marijuana advocates have been strongly against the idea of legalizing or decriminalizing even recreational use of marijuana. They have, for long, warned that legalizing marijuana will cause escalation in crimes as more people, under the influence of this "drug," will commit more crimes. However, the complete opposite happened.
In what could be one of the best supporting pieces of news for recreational use of marijuana, crime rate in Colorado reportedly went down post legalization of the same.
When Colorado cautiously legalized recreational marijuana, critics strongly warned it would lead to more crime throughout the state. But, in what could easily be considered a big slap-on-the-face to all marijuana haters, the overall crime rate actually plummeted. As reported by the state's official website, crime data for Denver, the hub of legal pot sales in the state, shows that murders, assaults, rapes, burglaries, and other violent have crimes actually declined during the first three months of the year, compared with the same period for 2013.
Though the overall reduction was only 10 percent, the impact is quite visible, claim proponents of marijuana consumption. According to the data obtained, homicides went down from 17 to 8, a massive 53 percent drop, automobile break-ins went down from 2,317 to 1,477 (36 percent), and sexual assaults from diminished to 95 from 110 (14 percent).
Did legalization of marijuana positively affect the crime rate? It is impossible to confidently say whether legalizing recreational use of marijuana had anything to do with the falling crime rates. In fact, two types of property crime actually went up. There were 47 incidents of arson, as compared to 20 in 2013 (a jump of 135 percent), while those of larceny went up 7 percent.
Though it is impossible to prove that legalizing marijuana brought down the crime, it does prove the anti-marijuana advocates wrong who were pretty confident that crime would invariably grow.
But, apart from the seemingly reassuring crime statistics, recreational marijuana is set to bring a lot of revenue via taxes. As 10 percent of the sales go to the government, within just three months, the state of Colorado collected a handsome $1.9 million in marijuana related taxes. Moreover, if the sales continue to climb, the state could earn as much as $60 million, predict market watchers.
While marijuana may have little to do with the reduction in crime rates, the taxes collected from the legal sale of cannabis will surely come in handy to build government offices, strengthen community infrastructure, and erect more schools. Isn't this better for the society at large?
[Image Credit | David Ingram, Reuters]