Following opening of retail pot stores in 2014, crime explodes in Denver during 2015
Throughout 2014 and early 2015, marijuana legalization advocates were trumpeting the supposed reduction in rates of some specific crimes for Denver, Colorado since the first retail marijuana stores officially opened in the state on January 1, 2014. More objective analyses told a very different story (see, e.g., articles here at AT on April 9, April 12, and June 18, and at the CFP on April 16 and June 4).
With data available for the first ten months of 2015, we are witnessing a massive crime explosion in Denver that further calls into question conclusions the legalization supporters were making last year.
Year-to-date homicides in 2015 for the city are up an astonishing 62 percent (from 26 to 42 in the January-October time frame) over the same period during 2014. The number of rapes has increased 20 percent in Denver this year. Robberies are up 13 percent, aggravated assaults are up 12 percent, property crimes are up 5 percent, and total crimes have increased 6 percent.
This is the opposite trend of what we should be seeing if the hypothesis put forward by legalization proponents were true. Namely, they claim that consuming marijuana does not make the end user more likely to commit crimes, and restricting legal sales and production of the product simply generates a large, underground criminal enterprise that does increase crime rates over the legal and regulated marijuana counter-factual. Unfortunately for the legal pot advocates, the last several years of data for crime in Colorado's largest city simply do not support this hypothesis.
Can we link Denver's 2015 crime wave to legal marijuana? Not conclusively, but when one looks at the historical crime trends across all categories for Denver, it certainly is suggestive of a major problem from this risky social experiment.