Violent crime decreased after Washington legalized cannabis


Logan Lowrey-Rasmussen

An upcoming report from the Department of Justice is expected to link cannabis with violent crime, although statistics from Washington state claimed the opposite.

Since voters approved Initiative 502, FBI crime statistics showed lower rates of violent crime in Washington than before legalization. There were 295.7 violence offenses reported per 100,000 residents in 2011 while 284.4 violent offenses were reported in 2015.

The data compiled showed fluctuations with the rate of violent crime, but had no meaningful increase between those years.

Mitch Barker, the executive director of the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs, remarked it would be a strain to correlate violent crime with cannabis usage, although state officials expected rates to rise.

“I think what more people are realizing is violent crime is linked to keeping marijuana illegal,” he added.

Washington crime statistics also contradict Attorney General Jeff Sessions’s February statement connecting rising violent crime with cannabis legalization. Currently, there is no FBI data or association which specifically tracks violent crime relating to the plant. 

Washington’s violent crime national average was substantially lower than the 2015 national average, with the FBI reported Washington’s 284.4 offenses per 100,000 inhabitants next to the national average of 372.6 per 100,000 inhabitants.