A team of researchers from the Victoria University of Wellington conducted a study about the changes that occurred in some states in the U.S. after medical cannabis was legalized.
The team found that there was no significant change in the crime rates in the country since medical cannabis was legalized.
The lead researcher of the group, Dr. Luke Chu, from the School of Economics and Finance, focused on the crime rates of individual states as well as the national crime rates.
Dr. Chu was a former student of Wilbur Townsend, also a co-author of the study. Townsend is a research analyst with the nonprofit Motu Economic and Public Policy Research group.
Townsend included this study in his Honours thesis, which was also published in the Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization.
In a statement, Dr. Chu said that the crime rate in the states with legal medical cannabis policies did not show any significant changes since these territories have approved the legalization of medical cannabis.
On an even more positive note, it was a different case in California. Since the legalization of cannabis took place in 1996, violent crimes and property crimes reduced to as much as 20 percent.
What Dr. Chu’s team of researchers did was to compare the before and after data between states who legalized cannabis and those who did not.
They specifically focused on crimes such as robbery, aggravated assault, rape, murder, larceny, motor vehicle theft and burglary. In both the national and state level, there were significantly close to zero increase in crime rates.
According to Dr. Chu, in California, the 20 percent reduction in the crime rates could stem out from various factors not only on the legalization of cannabis. “There’s no definitive answer as to why. California is a relatively liberal state and was the first U.S. state to legalize medical cannabis.”
Dr. Chu also provided some data that from other published researches that say that the legalization of cannabis did actually increase the excessive use of the substance but it was also able to reduce other dangerous activities such as heroin usage, opioid addiction, and drunk driving.
Dr. Chu believes that the evidence he presented could also be compared to the current state of cannabis legislation in New Zealand.
Furthermore, he said that he is confident that it would be very unlikely to see a huge surge in crime if it were fully legalized in the United States.
Although Dr. Chu was certain with his team’s study, he admitted that there is also a lot of research on the same topic but with different and some conflicting findings.
However, he is also quick to say that this study of theirs was the first to examine effects not only focused on the national level but also on the state level that showed parallel and consistent effects.
Moreover, he also stated that in addition to traditional regression analysis, their team used a technique called synthetic control method to analyze the data. He said that it allowed their team to consider pre-law differences in the trends of criminal activities without making extra suppositions.