Nearly two years since the first legal marijuana store opened its doors, the public wants to know if marijuana legalization has had any adverse effects on Colorado. Following the opening of retail pot stores on January 1, 2014, marijuana legalization advocates would have you believe the rate for specific crimes in Denver had dropped. However, more comprehensive examinations show the contrary.
In fact, according to the daily online magazine, American Thinker, data from the first ten months of 2015 shows a substantial uptick in the rates of certain crimes in and around Denver.
Governmental data indicates that the year-to-date homicide rate for Denver has risen 62 percent over the same period in 2014. For the ten-month period from January to October, the number of homicides in the city increased from 26 to 42.
The incidence of rape in Denver has risen 20 percent over last year. Property crimes are up 5 percent, aggravated assaults up 12 percent, and robberies have increased by 13 percent. The total crime rate has increased 6 percent.
If the theory offered by legalization proponents were accurate, a downward trend would be the reality. Advocates claim that consuming marijuana does not increase the user’s propensity for committing crimes, and that limiting legal production and sales of pot serves only to create an underground criminal establishment. It is this establishment, the advocates claim, that has caused the increase in criminal activity over the past year. Recent data for Denver crimes rates, however, do not seem to support this hypothesis.
The upward trend began in January 2014, when the sale of recreational marijuana was legalized. Comparing crime rates from the first five months of 2013 to the same time period in 2014, the total number of reported offenses Denver increased ten percent- from 17,450 to 19,234.
And Denver is not alone. After the sale of recreational marijuana was legalized, crime rates for other communities rose dramatically. Violent crime in Aurora rose 10 percent the first five months of that year. Sexual assaults increased by 30 percent and aggravated assaults increased by 24 percent.
Robberies in Englewood increased 11 percent compared to the first five months of 2013. Burglaries were up more than 68 percent.
Can the 2015 Denver crime rate hike be conclusively tied to legal marijuana? Not unequivocally. However, trends in criminal activity for the Mile-High City seem to be indicative of issues stemming from this dangerous social experiment, calling into question predictions made in 2014 by legalization proponents.
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