Daniel Fung of CT runs the Daniel Fung Arrest Blog which documents the gradual decriminalization of the marijuana industry. In this article Daniel Fung looks at cannabis-related arrest statistics across the country in the wake of more states legalizing MMJ and other types of cannabis products.
In 2012, Colorado and Washington became the first two states to legalize recreational marijuana use. Their decision to do so shifted the national debate away from criminalizing the substance and, in the proceeding decade, 16 more states have followed in their footsteps. Yet, Daniel Fung of CT notes that many critics argued that legalizing marijuana would lead to an increase in arrests and crime.
More than a decade later, though, Daniel Fung of Watertown CT says that critics’ fears have largely been disproven. Reports and research findings published by both state and federal authorities have found no evidence that legalizing recreational marijuana has caused crime rates to increase in states with such laws or the states surrounding them. Daniel Fung of CT takes a look at some of this data and finally lay to rest the critics’ claims.
The Federal Government Has Found No Link to A Rise in Crime
In a 49-page report funded by the United States National Institute of Justice and the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the authors found that states with legalized marijuana laws had fewer cannabis-related arrests and surrounding states reported no increase in arrests or trafficking attempts according to Daniel Fung of Watertown CT. Nevertheless, law enforcement remains vigilant and concerned about potency, use among underage populations, DUIs, and an influx of narco-tourists.
These findings have been replicated by a similar investigation by the FBI and their line of inquiry even found that marijuana-related arrests are down throughout the nation, not just in states with legalized recreational laws. From 2019 to 2020, the FBI reported 36% fewer arrests across the United States, dropping from 545,602 arrests to just 350,150.
Daniel Fung of Watertown, CT explains that this marks a record low not seen in the nation for nearly 30 years. Their findings also indicated that arrests were less likely in Western states, which do make up a large percentage of jurisdictions with legalized marijuana laws.
Daniel Fung of Watertown CT says The System Still Isn’t Perfect
Although legalization has opened a route for many growers to dispense their products in a regulated economy, they must operate under clear conditions set forth by a licensing board. If they fail to obtain a state-approved license, selling marijuana is still technically illegal. Understandably, there are still cases where unlicensed growers and distributors are trying to game the system.
Even in areas known for their widespread acceptance of marijuana, sellers still have to follow the rules. It was noted last month in the Daniel Fung Arrest Blog that the problem is that longstanding confusion about the law and a lack of enforcement prior to legalization have left many young growers and distributors ignorant about the licensing requirements.
Many have decided to set up shop and start selling, thinking that it’s within their rights to do so simply because the state passed a legalization law. What they fail to understand is that their shop must first obtain a license and pay fees to the city and state to meet legal standards. Until confusions are cleared up, Daniel Fung of CT says there will likely continue to be arrests among unlicensed dealers.
Methamphetamine Arrests are On the Rise
As police have shifted their focus away from marijuana, other drugs have taken its place as the primary concern for law enforcement. In the first half of 2020, the DEA reported a nearly 35% increase in methamphetamine-related deaths from the previous year. Daniel Fung of CT says this is likely due to a number of reasons, including the fact that meth is cheaper and more potent than ever before.
According to the same report, methamphetamine is becoming more available throughout the nation, expanding beyond traditional hotspots, such as the Midwest and Southwest. Nearly all of this new production has been trafficked into the country by cartels and drug syndicates who now appear to be setting up shop in the Northeast and Upper Midwest.
The COVID-19 pandemic has also played a role in the increase of meth use as people turn to the drug to cope with the stress of job loss, illness, and social isolation. Meanwhile, Daniel Fung of CT notes that heroin seizures have dropped steadily since 2019 as federal agencies try to real in the excesses of the lingering opiate crisis. Nevertheless, arrests for hard drugs are far lower than arrests for marijuana ever were.
The Bottom Line
Daniel Fung of Watertown notes that it’s been more than a decade since Colorado and Washington became the first states to legalize recreational marijuana and, in that time, there has been no evidence to support claims that legalization leads to an increase in crime. If anything, according to the Daniel Fung Arrest Blog the data indicates that marijuana-related arrests are down across the United States.
While there are still some illegal dealers operating outside of the regulated system, the vast majority of growers and sellers are following the rules and working within the legal framework set forth by their state. Instead, it appears that hard drugs are becoming more available as drug cartels have had to shift away from their staple cash crop.