Among the many arguments offered in support of marijuana decriminalization is the misguided belief that it will lead to a reduction in crime. As the thinking goes, making pot legal will remove the incentive to commit pot-related crimes. But that is not the way it works. Indeed, decriminalization might actually be contributing to higher crime rates in some places.
Look no further than California if you need evidence. According to a recent piece published by the High Times, certain types of marijuana-related crimes are becoming increasingly more prevalent in the Golden State. They are also becoming more brazen and violent.
Money is at the heart of the problem. Where there is money to be made, there are criminals willing to commit crimes. No one should be surprised to discover that criminal activity relating to marijuana production and distribution has not waned since the legalization efforts began some two decades ago.
Smash and Grab in Los Angeles
Smash and grab crimes in Los Angeles typify what is happening across the country. In one recent case, a group of men carjacked an innocent victim and threw him in the trunk. Then they drove his car to an illegal marijuana dispensary in downtown L.A., where they rammed the car through a steel barrier and looted the store.
Fortunately, the victim was released unharmed. It could have been worse. According to police reports, whoever was driving the car when it smashed into the store drove through the steel barrier in reverse. The victim is fortunate to be alive.
Such crimes are apparently on the rise in the City of Angels. But that is not even the half of it. California continues to battle with illegal grow operations that have migrated from Mexico into the Golden State. It has been estimated that California’s illegal marijuana industry generates several times more revenue than the legal industry.
Demand Fuels the Crime
Believing that marijuana decriminalization will reduce crime is an admission of one’s ignorance about human nature. Money is a tremendous criminal motivation. And whenever marijuana is decriminalized, the flow of money increases exponentially.
California has one of the most liberal marijuana laws in the country. It is also among the top states in the sheer number of people who use pot. Combine these two things with the fact that California’s economy is bigger than the economies of some smaller nations, and you have a recipe for criminal disaster.
Simply put, there is a heavy demand for cheaper street drugs. If a consumer can buy from an illicit dealer cheaper than a legal dispensary, he will. Legalizing marijuana does not change that.
Less Demand in Utah
Contrast that with the environment in Utah. Marijuana crimes are still committed in the state, but their scope and volume are much more limited. No one has driven through the front of the Beehive Farmacy medical cannabis dispensary in Utah.
There is less demand for marijuana in Utah for two reasons. First, Utah is a much more socially conservative state. Second, the state has not legalized recreational consumption. Only medical cannabis is allowed.
With lower demand there is less money to be made. That is why Utah doesn’t see nearly as much marijuana crime as many other states. They have not fallen victim to the undeniable reality that decriminalization increases demand. Likewise, increased demand increases criminal opportunity.
Do not believe the argument that decriminalizing marijuana will reduce marijuana -related crimes. It won’t. In fact, some types of marijuana crimes will only get worse as decriminalization spreads nationwide. You can count on it.