Those who oppose medical marijuana legislation often cite the strong association between marijuana use and criminal activity. This includes. known about the relationship between medical marijuana use and drug medical marijuana may influence an individual's criminal behavior. The Effect of Medical Marijuana Laws on US Crime, when a state on the there are no bystanders, no witnesses to the activities of the cartel. They found that among the border states the effect of the change in law . Correlation found between chickens and eggs, although cause and effect relationship.
Thus, a primary question when considering continuity between drug use and crime is: Two recent articles used propensity score methods to statistically control for a shared risk for drug use and crime. Slade and colleagues found that substance use disorders earlier in the life course by age 16 predicted criminal arrest and incarceration, after matching on a wide variety of early risk factors.
Odgers and colleagues found that those with a history of early substance use multiple times by age 15 had almost four times more criminal convictions by age 32 than those without a history of early substance use after matching on relevant risk factors. Together these studies suggest that there may be a direct effect of substance use and disorders on crime; however, neither tested potential mechanisms. Thus, a secondary question is: Do certain mechanisms along the life course explain the link between early marijuana use and adult criminal behavior?
Here we propose school dropout, onset of drug disorders, and escalation of drug use to cocaine or heroin as three mechanisms potentially responsible for the link between adolescent marijuana use and crime. Research shows that frequent adolescent marijuana users have reduced educational attainment Fergusson, Horwood, and Beautrais, and are more likely to be unemployed in adulthood as a result of limited education Green and Ensminger, Further, reduced educational achievement and unemployment have been found to be strong predictors of crime Fagan and Freeman, ; Thornberry et al, Drawing on the notion of cumulative disadvantage Sampson and Laub,heavy adolescent marijuana use reduces the likelihood of school completion, a key life domain, which can reduce future opportunities of successful social adaptation, such as employment, which in turn facilitates criminal behavior.
Second, the life course perspective suggests continuity in drug use Hser, Longshore and Anglin,including escalation to other drugs as well as onset of substance disorders, which have been linked to different types of criminal activity Chaiken and Chaiken, ; Slade et al, For instance, transitioning from marijuana to cocaine, crack, or heroin, may increase the risk of violent crime as these drug markets of the inner cities are often violent and weapon carrying is commonplace Korf et.
Drug disorders have been linked to economic crime in particular with increases in crime coinciding with periods of daily use or addiction among users of heroin Chaiken and Chaiken, Alternatively, treatment for narcotics addiction tends to reduce income-generating crimes Anglin and Perrochet, Moreover, the direct psychopharmacological effect of the drug can also lead to impaired judgment, as well as irritability from withdrawal symptoms, which makes crime more likely Brownstein and Goldstein, Data show that most male arrestees test positive for an illegal drug National Institute of Justice, and that between a quarter and a third of federal and state inmates reported being under the influence of drugs at the time of their crime Mumola and Karberg, Thus, heavy adolescent marijuana use may increase the likelihood of an onset of a substance disorder or simply continued substance use which, similar to school dropout, can reduce future opportunities of successful social adaptation in adulthood and facilitate criminal behavior.
The longitudinal design enables us to examine the potential influence of earlier marijuana use on later crime, setting up necessary temporal ordering for causality. To isolate the impact of marijuana on crime, we use propensity scores to match numerous confounders, including aggression, achievement, family factors, adolescent smoking, and non-drug delinquent behavior.
We study three potential causal mechanisms linking drug use and crime to elucidate the longitudinal process — high school dropout, onset of a drug disorder, and escalation to cocaine and heroin use. We focus on various types of criminal involvement to take into account that heavy marijuana use may increase the risk of certain types of crime but not others Pedersen and Skardhamar, We examine both official criminal arrest records and self-reports of criminal offending to safeguard against underreporting of criminal involvement.
In sum, the current study improves upon much of the current work in the field by examining the potential causal relationship between marijuana use and crime by 1 utilizing prospectively gathered data spanning over 35 years, 2 using official and self-reports of crime by crime type, 3 employing a statistical approach that minimizes bias due to observed confounding, and 4 investigating potential mediating mechanisms. In when the study began, Woodlawn was one of the most disadvantaged of the 76 community areas of Chicago, with some of the highest rates of unemployment, overcrowding, poverty, and welfare participation.
Despite the pervasive disadvantage in the community, there was also diversity, with some blocks having high rates of employment, home ownership, and high levels of education, primarily due to racial segregation within Chicago at the time. Inthe Woodlawn Study recruited all first graders in the public and private schools in the Woodlawn community to participate in this longitudinal study. Only thirteen families declined. In adolescencethose remaining in the Chicago area were followed up.
The teenagers reported on their alcohol and drug use, delinquency, family and peer relationships, participation in school, church, and other activities, as well as their psychological well-being.
In adulthood, attempts were made to locate all original participants. In young adulthoodindividuals completed the interview ages In mid-adulthoodcompleted the interview ages Criminal arrest records were obtained for the Woodlawn population from the Chicago Police Department in and again in FBI arrest records were collected in School and death records were also obtained periodically.
Inclusion in the current analysis is based on having an adolescent assessment and complete data on marijuana use during adolescence. Thus, the study population for this paper isa subset of the larger Woodlawn Study. Heavy Adolescent Marijuana Use Heavy adolescent marijuana use, the key independent variable, is based on self-reports from the adolescent assessment, during which respondents were asked to indicate their lifetime frequency of marijuana use.
We collapsed categories to create a variable that represented use 20 or more times in their lifetime. This cut-off was selected to represent significant drug involvement as opposed to experimental involvement. It was based on the literature Fergusson and Horwood, ; Milich et.A.G. Says Crime Isn’t All About Marijuana
Using either of these cut-offs did not have any major impact on conclusions drawn between adolescent marijuana use and adult crime. Instead, results suggest a dose-response type relationship with heavier use resulting in stronger associations with crime than lighter use.
Criminal Involvement We measure the dependent variable, criminal involvement, through self-reported involvement and official arrest records from the Chicago Police Department and Federal Bureau of Investigation FBI rap sheets.
Integrating FBI arrest records with Chicago records allows for both serious and non-serious crimes outside of the Chicago area to be included in our analysis. Of the 2, total arrests in our population, We operationalize crime as total crime and by type of offense i. We also consider drug, property, and violent arrests separately. All outcomes are coded as a binary item of whether or not the participant was arrested for that type of crime.
Violent crimes include murder, assault, battery, robbery, and domestic violence For the self-reports of crime, respondents were asked about lifetime participation in various acts at the young adulthood assessment age 32as well as the frequency and recency of participation.
Does Marijuana Increase Violent Behavior?
In the mid-life interview age 42the same information was collected but restricted to the 10 years between interviews, and thus the self-reports span a longer timeframe than the official records. Drug dealing is a single item asked of the respondent at the young adult and mid-life interview about involvement in selling of illegal substances, coded as yes or no; Self-reported violence is a binary measure of whether the individual perpetrated any of seven violent acts, including beating up someone for money or other valuables, using a weapon in a fight, purposely injuring someone physically, beating up someone within the family, beating up someone outside the family, forcing someone to have sex, and being in a gang fight We also include a measure of whether or not the individual had ever been incarcerated.
This item is based on incarceration data from multiple sources including self-reports at the two adult interviews, being interviewed in prison or jail, and being sentenced to prison or jail based on disposition information in the arrest record Matching Variables In order to isolate the impact of heavy adolescent marijuana on criminal offending in adulthood, we match on numerous covariates expected to confound the association between marijuana use and crime.
We further control for these variables in our regression analyses, as recommended by Ho et al. These variables include indicators of sex, socioeconomic status, family background, school adaptation, school achievement, other substance use, and delinquency. This binary variable represents whether the family was living below the federal poverty line when the child was in first grade.
Welfare receipt is used to fill in missingness on poverty status since eligibility for public assistance in Illinois in required the family to be living below the poverty line. Further, welfare payments were not sufficient to increase family income enough to be above the poverty level.
We also match on four other variables reported by mothers during the first grade assessment: We also match on family activities and discipline to take into account family functioning. Ratings are on a four-point scale from adapting to severely maladapting.
Adolescent Substance Use and Delinquency We match on adolescent reports of smoking at least occasionally before age Finally, we match on an overall frequency of perpetrating 18 possible adolescent non-drug delinquent activities. The construct ranged from zero to 69 and frequency was measured on a five-point scale 0, 1, 2,5 or more.
Items included carrying a weapon, hitting a teacher, participating in a gang fight, taking a non-family car without permission, damaging school property on purpose, getting into a serious fight with a student at school, running away from home, trespassing, getting something by threatening, shoplifting, skipping school, and hitting parents.
Mediators High school dropout was a self-reported binary variable of whether or not the student finished high school. Those who graduated or obtained a GED were coded as non-dropouts Twenty-two percent of those with an adolescent interview met lifetime criteria for drug abuse or dependence in adulthood.
For the mediation analyses this variable was modified to include only those who reported an age of onset that was before their age of first arrest, to ensure the drug disorder preceded the first arrest As a result, there is typically a positive relationship between percentage of a neighborhood area identified as commercially zoned and crime outcomes Brantingham and Brantingham, ; Cohen and Felson, ; Sampson and Wooldredge, Roadway features, such as the presence of highway ramps, may also encourage crime in the general area by easing a potential offender's ability for a quick getaway.
Neighborhood areas with highway ramps, then, may be viewed as more suitable for crime through increased access Felson, Therefore, those neighborhoods composed of demographic and structural factors associated with crime may create conditions in which both the physical location of a business and the surrounding areas are at risk for higher crime incidents Brantingham and Brantingham, Routine activities approach to medical marijuana dispensaries Previous work has established the spatial relationships between crime locations and place Eck and Weisburd, ; Greenbaum and Tita, ; Gruenewald et al.
Places such as medical marijuana dispensaries provide an opportunity where the conditions for crime outlined by routine activities theory can also converge.
Legal marijuana cuts violence says US study, as medical-use laws see crime fall
However, there have been no peer-reviewed studies that explore whether medical marijuana dispensaries are related to crime. Applying routine activity theory to medical marijuana dispensaries suggests that dispensaries may uniquely contribute to crime even when other contextual factors associated with crime have been controlled.
They have on-site stock and sales of marijuana and are a predominantly cash-based business California Police Chief's Association, The centralized location of the goods—marijuana and cash—within the dispensaries makes the location a suitable target for a potential offender who might be motivated to seek out ways to obtain the desirable goods, particularly where security appears to be absent.
Based on the conditions described above, dispensaries can be at risk for property crimes, such as burglary.
Does Using Marijuana Increase Violent Behavior or Aggression?
Employees of the dispensaries can be at risk for violent crimes, such as robbery or assault, because they are gatekeepers to both the marijuana products and the cash at the site. Estimates from the western United States and other countries show that users of medical cannabis are primarily male i.
The typical clientele for dispensaries i. However, they are at risk for being targets of violent crimes, such as robbery, because they are likely carrying cash on entry and some physical amount of marijuana product on exit. These more vulnerable clients may appear to be easier targets for a motivated offender and are at higher risk for victimization Cohen and Felson, Study aims To date, only preliminary quantitative evidence exists for the relationship between these medical marijuana dispensaries and crime.
Thus, the current study investigated the relationship of crime rates in Sacramento, CA, during to medical marijuana dispensaries to better understand their ecological impact. We hypothesized that medical marijuana dispensaries would be associated with higher crime rates, controlling for other aggregate neighborhood measures of routine activities known to contribute to crime. Method Study design This study used an ecological, cross-sectional design to explore the spatial relationship between the density of medical marijuana dispensaries and crime rates in the City of Sacramento.
California recognized distribution of marijuana through collectives in ; however, Sacramento did not implement local regulatory policies until Thus, data are froma period that represents the longest time for growth before regulations of medical marijuana dispensaries in Sacramento. All data were aggregated to U.
Census tracts approximate neighborhood areas with regard to size and composition: Census Bureau, Geography Division, Measures The dependent variables in the study were violent crime and property crime as measured by police crime incident data obtained from the Sacramento Police Department.
Crime incidents were available by crime code and location of incident. Violent crimes were recoded based on the Uniform Crime Reporting definitions, which included homicide, sexual assault, robbery, and aggravated assault.
Exploring the Ecological Association Between Crime and Medical Marijuana Dispensaries
Sexual assaults were excluded from the analysis because address information is confidential to protect the victim; those crimes were not able to be geocoded. Property crimes also were recoded based on the Uniform Crime Reporting definitions, which included burglary, larceny-theft, motor vehicle theft, and arson.
For each type of crime category, the number of crime incidents in a census tract was divided by the total population of the tract and multiplied by 1, to create the associated crime rate variable. Table 1 provides descriptive statistics for crime rates per census tract. Because of the right-skewed distributions of the dependent variables, violent crime rate and property crime rate were transformed by a natural log.
Table 2 provides zero-order correlations between the natural log of each type of crime rate and each continuous independent variable.