Benefits of legalizing marijuana reduce police’s burden: Study

Benefits of legalizing marijuana are not only economical but it also reduces bottlenecks at the police department.

A US study, observing how the legalization of marijuana in both Colorado and Washington, has “produced some demonstrable and persistent benefit” to police departments by allowing them to focus on bigger and more complicated crimes, the Washington Post reported.

While marijuana advocates can easily give an “I told you so” response, Washington State University’s researchers have at least attempted to show that with official figures.

Using FBI data, the researchers studied clearance rates, when suspects are identified, arrested and referred to courts for prosecution, for different types of crimes in Colorado and Washington for the period 2010 through 2015.

The sales of recreational marijuana took effect in 2014 in these two states, however, provisions permitting personal possession and use took effect shortly after November 2012 in Colorado and December 2012 for Washington.

Colorado and Washington were one of the earliest US states that have legalized the recreational use of marijuana.

Benefits of legalizing marijuana

“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 the study published in the journal Police Quarterly.

What they found is that crime clearance rates before legalization in Colorado in Washington were falling, however, afterward, the decline stabilized in Colorado and began to reverse itself in Washington.

In contrast to the United States as a whole, researchers found no similar shift happened.

The study, meanwhile, stressed that the data can’t prove conclusively that legalization directly caused the changes in clearance rates, mulling that there could have been other factors.

These factors include increased use of overtime hours, the implementation of new policing strategies or a more aggressive focus on certain types of crime.

Burglary, vehicle theft

The researchers also looked into trends related to some specific types of crime, most notably burglary and motor vehicle theft.

“The clearance rate for these two offenses increased dramatically post-legalization,” the authors found. “In contrast, national trends remained essentially flat.”

“While there were both immediate and long-term differences between states which legalized and the rest of the country in terms of crime clearance rates, the long-term differences are much more pronounced, especially in Colorado.”