After 3 Months Of Legal Pot Sales, Denver Still Not A Crime-Filled Hellscape

After 3 Months Of Legal Pot Sales, Denver Still Not A Crime-Filled Hellscape

Three months into Colorado's historic legal recreational marijuana sales, crime hasn't gone up in Denver, according to recent data released by the city.

Overall property crime in the first two months of 2014 fell by 14.6 percent in Denver compared to the same period of 2013. There wasn't as dramatic of a shift in overall violent crime rates for the same period, but they were still down by 2.4 percent.

The data stands in contrast to statements made in 2012, before Amendment 64 passed legalizing marijuana for recreational sale and use, when members of the law enforcement community warned of dire and "harmful" consequences because of legalization. “Expect more crime, more kids using marijuana and pot for sale everywhere," Douglas County Sheriff David Weaver said in a 2012 statement opposing Amendment 64. "I think our entire state will pay the price."

Of course, correlation does not imply causation with this city crime data, but skyrocketing crime because of legalization has not materialized. Still, some say that it's simply too early to identify any trends from this data.

"We quite frankly don't know," said Henny Lasley, spokesperson for anti-marijuana legalization group Smart Colorado, to Vox. "We've had three complete months of retail marijuana. It's a pretty short window."

Denver is home to the vast majority of the state's operational recreational marijuana dispensaries, which have generated tremendous sales revenue since sales began on New Year's Day -- $14 million in just the first month of sales alone.

The city's crime data echoes similar data from a recent report in the peer-reviewed publication PLOS ONE, which found that the legalizing of medical marijuana causes no increase in crime, and may even reduce some violent crime, including homicide.

Laws in 20 states and the District of Columbia allow marijuana for medical use. Along with Colorado, Washington state has also legalized marijuana for recreational use. About a dozen other states are considering the legalization of marijuana in some form in the coming years.

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