Media coverage of crime in Denver after pot’s legalization

 

After three months of legal pot, Denver has not turned into an urban wasteland. In fact, as Vox reports, crime in the first quarter of 2013 is down across the board from the first three months of 2013.

Yes, it’s still early. But so far, the numbers don’t suggest that Denver is about to succumb to a crime wave fueled by pot-addicted hooligans. (Yes, some law enforcement officials actually warned of this.)

All of which makes this Associated Press report all the more bizarre.

Here’s the scary lead:

“A 25-year-old is shot dead trying to sell marijuana the old-fashioned, illegal way. Two men from Texas set up a warehouse to grow more than they would ever need. And three people buying pot in a grocery store parking lot are robbed at gunpoint. While no one expected the state’s first-in-the-nation recreational sales would eliminate the need for dangerous underground sales overnight, the violence has raised concerns among police, prosecutors and pot advocates that a black market for marijuana is alive and well in Colorado.”

The piece goes on with other scary stories from around Denver and its suburbs. But wait, I thought crime was down in Denver? It is. Which is why the AP has only anecdotes. This paragraph is the closest the article comes to attempting to find actual figures:

It’s difficult to measure whether there has been an increase in pot-related crimes beyond anecdotal reports because no one at either the federal or state levels is keeping track of the numbers of killings, robberies and other crimes linked directly to marijuana.

So violent and property crimes are down in Denver. And we have no way of knowing how many of the crimes that have been permitted are related to legalized marijuana. But the AP goes ahead and quotes law enforcement officials who say the entire region is erupting into chaos — the same group of people who predicted as much before legalization took effect, and so of course have an interest in seeing it come to pass.

There are 3 million people in the Denver metropolitan area. There will be some crime whether pot is legal or not. And there will be crimes that in some way involve pot, also whether pot is legal or not — just as there are crimes related to alcohol, money, sex and charity hockey games. It’s also certainly possible that the high tax on pot in Colorado has allowed black markets to continue to exist. And I suppose it’s also at least possible that pot is fueling crime — that were it not for legalization, both violent and property crimes would have fallen off even more.

But that’s all pure speculation now. There’s no evidence that any of those things are happening. All we have are some anecdotes from law enforcement. So perhaps we should hold off on the panicky stories about pot-fueled crime waves for a bit — especially since the early data show that crime has actually dropped.

Read more From Our Inbox stories from the Miami Herald

  • An Idiot’s Guide to Inequality

    We may now have a new “most unread best-seller of all time.”

  • French food on a slippery slope

    Before my first visit to France, around 45 years ago, I was told that you couldn’t find bad food there if you tried. I was of limited experience, so even a hot dog jammed into a baguette bore witness to that “fact.”

  • Even when the VA does act, it still fails our veterans

    Jymm’s preferred attire is a skin-tight Minnie Mouse T-shirt with bright pink windbreaker pants. Even when not sporting his outfit of choice, he dons short shorts and shirts with holes in them, because that’s what he finds most comfortable. His Santa Monica apartment was furnished with broken chairs and tables he dug out of dumpsters. He held onto his favorite old drinking glass long after it broke. Jymm is a Vietnam veteran (who holds two Purple Hearts), and he’s definitely a character. But he’s never hurt himself or anyone else.

Miami Herald

Join the
Discussion

The Miami Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Miami Herald uses Facebook's commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here.

Have a news tip? You can send it anonymously. Click here to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald.

Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK

  • Marketplace

Today's Circulars

  • Quick Job Search

Enter Keyword(s) Enter City Select a State Select a Category