Seattle's post-marijuana legalization crime wave

It turns out that Denver, Colorado may not be the only major American city seeing an increase in crime following marijuana legalization.  Seattle, Washington looks to be experiencing some blowback as well.

According to the Drug Policy Alliance, "[a]dult possession of marijuana became legal [in Washington State] on December 6, 2012, 30 days after the passage of I-502, the voter-approved initiative legalizing marijuana for adults 21 and older. A year-and-a-half later, the first retail marijuana store opened its doors on July 8, 2014."

When we look at the number of total and property crimes in Seattle from 2008 through 2014, there are massive increases during 2013 and 2014 after adult possession of marijuana became legal during December 2012.  The number of these crimes was stable or declining from 2008 through 2012, after which total crimes jumped 13 percent from 2012 to 2013.  By the end of 2014, the number of total crimes was 24 percent higher than in 2012.

Property crimes increased 14 percent from 2012 to 2013, and the 2014 data was 26 percent higher than the pre-pot legalization period.

Burglaries are up 10 percent since marijuana legalization, larceny thefts have increased 27 percent, and motor vehicle thefts are 54 percent higher.

Violent crime is also on the rise.  In 2012, Seattle had fewer than 3,500 violent crimes.  By 2014, this had increased 6 percent to 3,700 and 2015 is on target for a further increase up to 3,800 – driven by more robberies and aggravated assaults.

It looks as though Denver isn't alone in experiencing a potential crime rate increase from marijuana legalization.

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