Marijuana Myths: Data Shows Cannabis Legalization Did Not Lead to Crime, More Accidents

A new look at recent cannabis legalization research has found many of the marijuana myths circulated by legalization opponents at the time have not come to pass, including fears about increased crime and car crashes.

Much like the effort to demonize marijuana in the 20th century, much of what people base their opposition to legalization on involves marijuana myths more than marijuana facts. While they stopped short of referring to “Reefer Madness,” some of the opposition went far afield from the results of actual scientific research.

Research Counteracts Marijuana Myths

Planet Money, the NPR show focused on the world of finance, recently wrote about the latest marijuana research. They listed what they considered “interesting findings.” They include the following.

Legal Cannabis Does Not Increase Crime

In states where cannabis became legal, there was not a sudden explosion in crime, either in the neighborhoods where dispensaries opened or in the surrounding city or state. Individual states, including Colorado, have already reported that they saw no legalization-related crimewave. A new study from the Cato Institute has found that overall, legalization neither greatly increased or reduced crime.

Legal Cannabis Does Not Increase Traffic Accidents

The University of Minnesota released a study in 2020 that found no association between an increase in fatal traffic accidents, including those involving pedestrians, and the legalization of marijuana. They also found that Washington and Oregon saw a drop in fatal car accidents after medical marijuana became legal.

Legal Cannabis Has Not Impacted the Price of Cannabis

Many observers through legalized cannabis would drive the cost of cannabis down, but it’s remained about the same since legalization in most states, according to the Cato Institute.

Legal Cannabis Has Not Led to More Workers Comp Claims

A recent study found that workers in states where marijuana is legal filed fewer workers compensation claims, and for lower amounts. Overall, the number of claims from workers aged 40 to 62 fell by about 20% in legal states.

Two Places Where Legal Cannabis Has Had An Impact

There are also some areas where cannabis had the impact that was expected, and in a good way. They include the following.

Legal Cannabis Creates Many Jobs. About 321,000 people now work in the cannabis industry, according to a report cited by Planet Money. That’s more people than work in the mining industry.

Legal Cannabis Has Boosted State Budgets. The tax revenue from cannabis exceeded expectations. At this point, Colorado collects about $20 million in taxes every month, while California collects about $50 million.

Clearly, legal cannabis provides many benefits. And many of the marijuana myths about the potential problems of legalization have not come to pass. That’s an important thing to remember as debate continues around the country about national legalization.

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