As Douglas County Sheriff David A. Weaver reached out to his constituents in September of 2012, he encouraged them to vote against Amendment 64, a.k.a. the legalization of recreational marijuana in Colorado.
“If voters pass this amendment, I believe there will be many harmful consequences,” Weaver said at the time. “Expect more crime, more kids using marijuana and pot for sale everywhere. I think our entire state will pay the price.”
Granted we’re nearly a year and a half into legal recreational marijuana — and only three months into legal sales — but how has the availability and legality of weed impacted crime stats in the city of Denver? The folks at Ezra Klein’s much ballyhooed Vox Media took a look at these statistics for a piece published April 7, “Remember when legal marijuana was going to send crime skyrocketing?”
“Three months into its legalization experiment, Denver isn’t seeing a widespread rise in crime,” German Lopez’s piece reads. “Violent and property crimes actually decreased slightly, and some cities are taking a second look at allowing marijuana sales.”
“We had folks, kind of doomsayers, saying, ‘Oh my gosh, we’re going to have riots in the streets the day they open,’” Denver City Council President Mary Beth Susman, a supporter of legal marijuana, told Lopez. “But it was so quiet.”
The report, rooted in this Denver crime data, “shows a slight decrease in the past year: violent crime in January and February fell by 2.4 percent compared to the first two months of 2013 … So far, city data shows no increase in property crime. Compared to the first two months of 2013, property crime in January and February actually dropped by 12.1 percent. Reports of robberies and stolen property dropped by 6.2 percent and 13 percent, respectively. Burglaries and criminal mischief to property rose by only 0.5 percent.”
These are early numbers, yes, and it’s too soon to definitively say if legal marijuana sales have negatively or positively impacted crime in Denver and its surroundings. But are these numbers a signal of what we can expect in the future?