Study: Marijuana Regulation Reduces Organized Crime Activity

NORWAY: The regulation of marijuana for medical purposes is associated in a decrease in violent crimes committed by Mexican drug trafficking organizations, according to data published in The Economic Journal.

A team of researchers from Norway and the United States assessed the relationship between medical marijuana regulation and criminal activity (homicides, assaults, and robberies) in Mexican border states. Researchers reported that medicalization reduced violent crime rates by as much as 12.5 percent, and theorized that broader adult use regulation would “have an even larger impact” on reducing criminal activity. Jurisdictions closest to the border experienced the most significant drop in violent criminal activity.

Authors concluded, “Our results are consistent with the theory that decriminalization of the production and distribution of marijuana leads to a reduction in violent crime in markets that are traditionally controlled by Mexican drug trafficking organizations.”

Prior reports by National Public Radio and others have similarly concluded that statewide cannabis legalization has significantly undercut domestic demand for Mexican-grown marijuana.


For more information, contact Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director, at: paul@norml.org. Full text of the study, “Is legal pot crippling Mexican drug trafficking organizations? The effect of medical marijuana laws on crime,” appears in The Economic Journal.

For-Profit Medical Marijuana Consultancy Applies for License

RHODE ISLAND: Rhode Island authorities are considering a new application for permission to open a medical marijuana consultancy. B & B Consulting bills itself as a first-of-its-kind medical marijuana “evaluation center.” [Read more…]

Eric Holder May Release Sweeping Drug Sentencing Proposal, Admits Current Practices Are Discriminatory

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: Attorney General Eric Holder is rumored to be proposing major reforms to drug sentencing in the coming weeks, and if a Wednesday interview with NPR is any indication, the changes could signal a pivot from the aggressive policies embraced by the Justice Department. [Read more…]

Eric Holder May Release Sweeping Drug Sentencing Proposal, Admits Current Practices Are Discriminatory

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: Attorney General Eric Holder is rumored to be proposing major reforms to drug sentencing in the coming weeks, and if a Wednesday interview with NPR is any indication, the changes could signal a pivot from the aggressive policies embraced by the Justice Department. [Read more…]

The Mysterious History Of ‘Marijuana’

Marijuana has been intertwined with race and ethnicity in America since well before the word “marijuana” was coined. The drug, my colleague Gene Demby recently wrote, has a disturbing case of multiple personality disorder: It’s a go-to pop culture punch line. It’s the foundation of a growing recreational and medicinal industry.
Yet according to the ACLU, it’s also the reason for more than half of the drug arrests in the U.S. A deeply disproportionate number of marijuana arrests (the vast majority of which are for possession) befall African-Americans, despite similar rates of usage among whites and blacks, the ACLU says.

Throughout the 19th century, news reports and medical journal articles almost always use the plant’s formal name, cannabis. Numerous accounts say that “marijuana” came into popular usage in the U.S. in the early 20th century because anti-cannabis factions wanted to underscore the drug’s “Mexican-ness.” It was meant to play off of anti-immigrant sentiments.

A common version of the story of the criminalization of pot goes like this: Cannabis was outlawed because various powerful interests (some of which have economic motives to suppress hemp production) were able to craft it into a bogeyman in the popular imagination, by spreading tales of homicidal mania touched off by consumption of the dreaded Mexican “locoweed.” Fear of brown people combined with fear of nightmare drugs used by brown people to produce a wave of public action against the “marijuana menace.” That combo led to restrictions in state after state, ultimately resulting in federal prohibition.

But this version of the story starts to prompt more questions than answers when you take a close look at the history of the drug in the U.S.: What role did race actually play in the perception of the drug? Are historical accounts of pot usage — including references to Mexican “locoweed” — even talking about the same drug we know as marijuana today? How did the plant and its offshoots get so many darn names (reefer, pot, weed, hashish, dope, ganja, bud, and on and on and on) anyway? And while we’re on the subject, how did it come to be called “marijuana”?

Let’s start with the race question. Eric Schlosser recounts some of the racially charged history of marijuana in his 1994 Atlantic article “Reefer Madness” (some of the source material for the best-selling book):