The task force on violent crime commissioned by the DOJ has yet to report on its findings concerning marijuana related violent crime. The Senate Appropriations committee does not seem likely to give Jeff Sessions the funding he needs to fight state legalized medical marijuana regardless of the findings anyways.
In the meantime, states that have legalized cannabis seem to have no problems sharing their data. Washington state recently reported a drop in marijuana related violent crime, as an example. One of the most important endeavors of legalized marijuana is to strip the black market of its demand. The rational would be that if you eliminate the black market than you eliminate a lot of the violence that surrounds the black market and the violence that comes from law enforcement’s pursuit of the black market. Does it seem to you that Jeff Sessions is implying that using cannabis makes people violent?
An upcoming report from a U.S. Department of Justice task force is expected to link marijuana use to violent crime, which some fear might signal the start of a Trump administration crackdown on weed.
U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has been quick to tie marijuana use to violent crime in recent months, fueling some advocates’ concerns about what might come out of this week’s report from the Task Force on Crime Reduction and Public Safety.
In April, Sessions promised the task force would “undertake a review of existing policies in the areas of charging, sentencing and marijuana to ensure consistency with the department’s overall strategy on reducing violent crime.”
That was after Sessions told reporters in February that the nation was seeing “real violence” around the “unhealthy practice” of marijuana use, according to POLITICO.
“Experts are telling me there’s more violence around marijuana than one would think and there’s big money involved,” Sessions said.
But those statements run contrary to the experience in Washington state, which became one of the first two U.S. states to legalize recreational marijuana use for adults in 2012.
Since voters approved Initiative 502, FBI crime statistics show lower rates of violent crime in Washington than before legalization. According to the FBI data, in 2011 there were 295.6 violent offenses reported per 100,000 Washington residents. In 2015, the most recent full year of data available, that rate had fallen to 284.4 violent offenses per 100,000 people.
Other data compiled by the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs showed some fluctuations in violent crime rates but still found no statistically significant increase. According to those reports, in 2012 there were 3.6 violent offenses per 1,000 state residents. In 2016, the state’s violent crime rate was 3.3 offenses per 1,000 people.
The downturn in violent crime in Washington is in line with national trends. A Pew Research Center analysis of the FBI data found that nationwide, the rate of reported violent crimes in 2015 was roughly half what it was in 1993.
Still, Washington’s violent crime rate in 2015 was substantially lower than the national rate, according to the FBI data.
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