The Impact Of Marijuana Law Enforcement Criminology Essay

Published: Last Edited:

This essay has been submitted by a student. This is not an example of the work written by our professional essay writers.

Current policies of drug law enforcement are far more costly in achieving 'drug-free' society; and therefore it is better to tolerate the relative amount of crimes, as long as it does not have a negative impact on health (Shepard & Blackley, 2007). In order to control and decrease drug related crime rates, drug law enforcement's approach to disrupt marijuana supply and demand had been failing, and causes for an increase in crime including non-drug crimes, and marijuana crimes (Shepard & Blackley, 2007).


Shepard & Blackley (2007) are trying to answer following questions:

Do increasing in rate of marijuana arrest positively correlate with harder drug arrests (Shepard & Blackley, 2007)? (2) Do current drug policies hold benefits that are greater than the alternatives (Shepard & Blackley, 2007)? (3) Are an increasing the risk of drug arrests decreasing the rates of crime (Shepard & Blackley, 2007)? (4) Do marijuana arrests significantly affect the rate of violent crimes, murders, and property crimes such as, burglary, larceny, and motor vehicle theft?


The results show that increasing marijuana arrests also increases non-drug crimes as well as other 'harder drug' related crimes (Shepard & Blackley, 2007). The current objective of drug law enforcement is to destroy supply and demand of marijuana by increasing the risk of arrests and imprisonment for drug dealer and buyers. Current drug policies state that the rate of non-drug related crime decrease because "most violent crime committed not because people want to buy drugs, but because people are on drugs" (Shepard & Blackley, 2007, p.406). The government funding on drug law enforcement increased from $1.5 billion to $12 billion from year of 1981 to 2002 (Shepard & Blackley, 2007). The data provided shows that there is an increment in the prison population of drug offenders from 1980-2002 are two millions, and the positive impact on this increment is lower sentences for other non-drug offenders (Shepard & Blackley, 2007). Marijuana, medically proven to be nonaddictive, is categorized for 'schedule 1' drug, and according to drug law enforcement 'schedule 1' is designed for highly addictive drugs. Due to insufficient success with drug enforcement, many states have tried alternative approaches, in which marijuana is legalized for medical purposes, and control a marijuana market (Shepard & Blackley, 2007). In Florida, according to Benson and colleagues (1992), the rate of property crimes has been increased due to increase drug law enforcement (Shepard & Blackley, 2007). There have been no cases reported, which shows an increase in drug arrest does not decrease in non-drug crimes (Shepard & Blackley, 2007). The statistical calculation shows that there could be additional fifty two larcenies and five motor vehicle thefts increase as arrests of marijuana possession increase (Shepard & Blackley, 2007). Shepard and Blackley also correlate unemployment rates and average wages with rates of crime by using one-standard deviation, in which, it has been confirmed that increasing average wages was negatively correlated with the rate of larcenies, burglaries, and motor vehicle thefts; while an increase in the unemployment rate is positively correlated with larcenies, burglaries, and motor vehicle thefts. The rate of increasing drug sell arrests positively correlated with the rate of homicides, burglaries; and hard drug possession because the user substitutes other hard drugs for marijuana (Shepard & Blackley, 2007).


Reducing marijuana drug policies would also reduce violent crime and drug related crime (Shepard & Blackley, 2007).Shepard & Blackley (2007) suggest that although there has not been reported decrement in non-drug crimes, but using government resources, which is being used behind drug law enforcement, for non-drug crime help in decrement. Marijuana possession arrests contributed to increase in property crime, while marijuana sale arrests cause to increases in burglary, homicide, and hard drug possession (Shepard & Blackley, 2007). The rate of non-drug crime declines if the government gives lower priorities for marijuana enforcement (Shepard & Blackley, 2007). When the marijuana drug policies reduce, its price goes down; and therefore the buyer would not commit another crime, such as burglaries and motor vehicle theft, to buy high price marijuana (Shepard & Blackley, 2007). According to the results, current marijuana law policies are not benefiting to reduce non-drug crimes and hard drug use, and hence current policies are questionable (Shepard & Blackley, 2007). The unemployment rates have negative impacts on crime rate, while the increase in wages has positive impacts (Shepard & Blackley, 2007).


According to the government's drug policies, increasing risk of arrest and incarceration due to tough drug policies could improve health, better workplaces, and provide a safer community (Shepard & Blackley, 2007). Because marijuana is a schedule 1 drug, its offender faces severe penalties; and leads government to give priority for marijuana law enforcement, therefore scheduling marijuana is needed to be reconsidered (Shepard & Blackley, 2007). Criminals are more likely to commit crime when the benefit, such as monetary value of goods, is greater than the risk of arrests, and therefore marijuana usage decrease, while other non-drug crimes, and harder drug possession crime increase (Shepard & Blackley, 2007). Shepard & Blackley provide the following various reasons for the increase in crime due to strict regulations: disruption in the distribution network, leading to conflicts within the drug market and more violence; drug sellers would find alternative crimes in order to get means of income; higher prices lead to expansion of the drug business and greediness of expansion lead competitor to cause violent crime; and the prison cells filled with drug offenders, which lead reduction of other crime sentence periods.

According to Shepard & Blackley (2007), "Because of the illegality of participating in marijuana transactions, prices may be higher…", which "implies that users may also turn to stealing in order to finance their purchases of marijuana at higher price" (p. 411). For an increase in hard drug possession upon an increase in marijuana arrest, Shepard & Blackley proposed that users may substitute hard drugs for marijuana, which cause the seller to sell those hard drugs, which replaces their income lost (Shepard & Blackley, 2007).


If the government reviews this article, it would help in a decrease in drug crime and non-drug crime (Shepard & Blackley, 2007). Although drug law enforcement cost and benefit is needed to be tested, this article provides excellent result, which shows the significant decrease in burglaries, larcenies, and homicide (Shepard & Blackley, 2007). The government should be realizing that existing drug policies is not decreasing crime, but it rather increases it (Shepard & Blackley, 2007).