legal cannabis

Will Legal Cannabis Decrease Puerto Rico’s Crime Rates?

Could the legal cannabis industry help to reduce Puerto Rico’s crime rates?

A recent U.S. study has provided potentially good news for states who have legalized marijuana. The new marijuana laws have reportedly reduced crime rates by at least 13%.

This study looked at the U.S. states bordering Mexico, where most of U.S. marijuana originates. But other states are hoping that the legalization will reduce crime rates elsewhere too. Puerto Rico’s recent rise in crime could also  be reduced through the legal cannabis industry.

How does the legal cannabis industry reduce crime?

According to the study, the new cannabis laws allow farmers to harvest marijuana and sell it to dispensaries. The dispensaries then sell the product legally to consumers, which reduces the amount of sales within the Mexican drug cartel. The cartel, who illegally bring the drugs over the U.S. border, are often involved in competitive, gang-related violence.

Battles among different cartels often occur because of territorial issues. Sometimes, theft also sparks the disputes. But in states with marijuana laws, cartel presence has greatly decreased, which also lessens the violence.

puerto rico's crime rates

How much has crime really been reduced? 

The team of researchers involved in this study used the FBI’s crime reports from 1994 to 2012 to look at the reduction in crime. In California, violence has decreased 15% since the law changes were made, and Arizona around 7%. The type of crime that has decreased the most is robbery, which dropped 19%, followed by murder, which dropped 10%.

The reduction in crime may not be enough to inspire more state legalization.

Unfortunately, despite the significant reduction in crime, the recent political climate is leaning away from legalizing marijuana. The study’s authors feel strongly that these new insights can help to reduce violent crime, and even deaths, related to the illegal drug industry.

So far, over 20 states in the U.S. have created laws to regulate medical marijuana. There is reportedly one dispensary per six typical pharmacies in these states.

In both Washington state and Colorado, marijuana is fully legal, even for recreational use. The hope is that long-term crime will be even further reduced in these states as less and less cartel involvement is utilized.

Good news for Puerto Rico?

So what does this study mean in terms of Puerto Rico’s crime rates?

Puerto Rico does have a violent crime issue. Residents are hopeful that their medicinal cannabis industry will help to have some of these same effects on local crime. The overall theory is that the less gang-related illegal drug sales occur, the less chance there will be for violent crime to ensue.

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