Claims about the supposed dangers of marijuana are regularly reported without criticism. But new studies illuminate the facts on a few prominent marijuana myths.
Myth 1) Dispensaries increase crime
One common myth is that dispensaries are magnets for crime, according to the National Memo. But data recently published in the Journal of Urban Economics reveals that dispensaries actually deter crime in their neighborhoods. Researchers found that, in Los Angeles, crime quickly increased in areas where dispensaries closed.
The researchers said, “Open dispensaries provide over $30,000 per year in social benefit in terms of larcenies prevented.”
A federally-funded research study was published in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs and noted a similar trend in Sacramento. That report reads: “There were no observed cross-sectional associations between the density of medical marijuana dispensaries and either violent or property crime rates in this study. These results show that the densities of medical marijuana dispensaries may not be associated with crime rates or that other factors, such as measures dispensaries take to reduce crime (i.e., doormen, video cameras) may increase guardianship such that it deters possible motivated offenders.”
Myth 2) Marijuana increases traffic fatalities
Another myth is that states with legalized marijuana have more traffic-related deaths because of marijuana. Research from investigators at the University of Texas – Austin show that there weren’t any significant changes in the number of traffic-related deaths in Colorado or Washington.
The investigators said, “We found no significant association between recreational marijuana legalization in Washington and Colorado and subsequent changes in motor vehicle fatality rates in the first three years after recreational marijuana legalization.”
A 2016 publication noted that in medical marijuana legal states traffic fatalities decreased in drivers between ages 25 and 44.
Myth 3) Marijuana increases use among youth
The third myth debunked is that of problematic marijuana use after legalization. Some say that legalizing marijuana will increase rates of marijuana use. Those claims are unsubstantiated. Most studies regarding the issue didn’t find significant change in the amount of young people or adults using marijuana in a problematic way.
Columbia University researchers submitted information to the journal Addiction recently reporting: “No associated increase in the prevalence of cannabis use disorder” where medical marijuana is legal. The same report shows that there was: “No significant change in the prevalence of past-month marijuana use among adolescents or young adults (those ages 18 to 25) after legalization.”
Separate studies also show that there are fewer young people using marijuana now than a decade ago. Lead study author for a JAMA Psychiatry published study said, “Our survey didn’t notice any increase in marijuana-related problems. Certainly, some people are having problems so we should remain vigilant but the sky is not falling.”