Violent Crime Down Since Colorado Legalized Marijuana

Tuesday, June 10, 2014
Pro-marijuana rally in Denver April 20, 2013 (photo: Brennan Linsley, AP)

When Colorado legalized recreational marijuana, critics of the idea warned it would lead to more crime throughout the state. But the impact has been just the opposite so far in the state’s largest city, which has seen violent crime go down.


Crime data for Denver, the hub of legal pot sales in the state, shows murders, assaults, rapes, burglaries and other violent crimes declined during the first three months of the year, compared with the same period for 2013.


Homicides went down from 17 to 8 (a 53% drop), automobile break-ins from 2,317 to 1,477 (down 36%) and sexual assaults from 110 to 95 (down 14%). Overall, violent and property crimes dropped more than 10% from last year to this year during the first quarter.


Two types of property crime did go up—arson from 20 incidents to 47 (a 135% jump) and larceny from 2,133 to 2,287 (up 7%).


Meanwhile, marijuana sales across the state increased during the first three months of 2014, from $14 million to $19 million, according to Vox. “For all three months, Denver County made up about half that revenue,” German Lopez reported, noting the city is host to nearly 60% of Colorado’s licensed retail pot stores. Disappointed opponents of legal marijuana pointed out that there has been no connection shown between the drop in the crime rate and the increase in marijuana sales.


Some opponents say the criminal effect of decriminalizing marijuana won’t be felt for several years. “This is a great opportunity for us to find out what happens when you legalize a substance like marijuana,” Tom Gorman, director of Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area, told Vox before the police statistics came out. “Just wait and watch what happens in these labs, and then you can make a decision based on data and facts and not rhetoric.”

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

Part 1 Crime in the City and County of Denver Based on UCR Standards (City of Denver) (pdf)

Since Denver Legalized Pot Sales, Revenue Is Up and Crime Is Down (by German Lopez, Vox)

No Connection between Medical Marijuana and Increase in Crime (by Steve Straehley, AllGov)


V 9 years ago
We as Americans know what is a horrible drug that has caused so many lives and families to be destroyed, and people complain about marijuana, lets be real there are crimes and law breakers that need to be addressed than dealing with smokers, and many doctors, lawyers, police officers smoke and maybe someone you se everyday and would not expect it smoke so just think before you label someone who smokes weed a stoner aka stoner has no job, responsibilities or any ambition that is being put to use.
jon 9 years ago
Yeah. Just like alcohol has no bearingon auto incidents and poverty has no effect upon crime. Pot advocates are against smoking tobacco but have no issue with a teenager blowing pot into the air for every one else to breathe, including children. Selfish, ignorant,irresponsible "grownups" are now the norm. Greatly saddened.
Peter 10 years ago
Yes... when the market is taken out of the hands of violent criminals, this happens. Congrats Colorado. You are doing the right thing!
anonamouse 10 years ago
It's so obvious. Why does everyone pretend that changing the law somehow changes the playing field? Millions of Americans have been smoking pot for the past 40 years, to use Nixon's war on drug users (i.e., Youth) as a starting point. If smoking pot led to car wrecks, domestic violence, child abuse, or whatever it is the Prohibition establishment claims to fear, we'd all know it by now because there would be plenty of statistical evidence of such. Did it take 40 years for folks to realize alcohol is a prime cause of dangerous driving? Was Woodstock an orgy of violence within a donut of highway carnage? Nope. Nope. Nope. But don't try bringing 400,000 heavy drinkers together for a 3-day NASCAR rally, at least not without the National Guard present to restore order.

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