How Marijuana Legalization Reduces Violent Crime and Puts Drug Smugglers out of Work
How Marijuana Legalization Reduces Violent Crime and Puts Drug Smugglers out of Work by Daniel J. Mitchell – FEE
TDC Note – Anyone that can think logically can see the “war on drugs”, the “war on poverty” or any of the “war on…” memes is nothing more than a smokescreen to perpetuate what ever the “war” is supposedly “fighting / combatting”. Look at what the “war on terrorism” has produced. Death and destruction as far as the eye can see – with so few “victories” one could argue it is a total failure.
The Drug War is responsible for a cycle that creates more violence and higher profits for drug dealers.
Moreover, even though I personally disapprove of drug use, I adhere to the libertarian principle that people should be free to do what they want (even stupid things) with their own bodies.
The Latest Research
Today, though, let’s focus on the practical argument and look at some fascinating academic research from Evelina Gavrilova, Takuma Kamada, and Floris Zoutman (two economists and a criminologist). Here’s a summary from the abstract of their study:
We examine the eﬀects of medical marijuana laws (MMLs) on crime… Using data from the Uniform Crime Reports, we show that the introduction of MMLs lead to a decrease of 12.5 percent in violent crime, such as homicides, aggravated assaults and robberies in states that border Mexico. We also show that the reduction in violent crimes is strongest for counties close to the border (less than 350km)… Analysis from the Supplementary Homicide Reports data reveals that the decrease in homicides can largely be attributed to a drop in drug-law related homicides. We ﬁnd evidence for spillover eﬀects. When an inland state passes a MML, this results in a decrease in crime in the nearest border state. Our results are consistent with the theory that the introduction of MMLs reduces activity by Mexican drug traﬃcking organizations and their aﬃliated gangs in the border region. MMLs expose drug traﬃcking organizations (DTOs) to legitimate competition, and substantially reduce their proﬁts in one of their most lucrative drug markets. This leads to a decrease in drug related crime in the Mexican border area. Our results indicate that decriminalization of the production and distribution of drugs may lead to a reduction in violence in markets where organized drug criminals meet licit competition.
In other words, legalize drugs, and you get less violent crime.
And for those who want some of the underlying economic analysis, here’s the relevant section of the study:
Figure 2 represents the market for marijuana. For simplicity we assume that illicit and medical marijuana are perfect substitutes in consumption, such that the supply and demand of both substances can be represented in a single ﬁgure. SDTO represents the supply curve for marijuana by DTOs. S0 represents the combined supply of marijuana by DTOs and local farmers that were already active prior to the introduction of a MML. A MML allows for entry of additional local farmers and thus shifts the combined supply to the right to S1. This results in a reduction in the price of the drug, an increase in the overall quantity, and a reduction in the quantity sold by DTOs. The shaded area in the graph depicts the aggregate loss in revenues for DTOs.
Here’s the graph that shows how legalization creates significant losses for drug smugglers: