New York Police Department commissioner Bill Bratton is blaming Colorado marijuana for its increased crime rate. Come on Bill, you're smarter than that.
At a news conference Monday, New York Police Department commissioner Bill Bratton blamed a slight increase in murders on none other than legal weed from Colorado and Washington. So far, there have been 54 murders this year compared with 45 during the same time period last year.
Sure, and our grandma's peony bush murdered her as well.
Talking to the press, Ol' Bill said,
“The seemingly innocent drug that’s been legalized around the country. In this city, people are killing each other over marijuana more so than anything that we had to deal with [in the] 80s and 90s with heroin and cocaine . . . In some instances, it’s a causal factor. But it’s an influence in almost everything that we do here.”
With all due respect, Bill, if weed was legal in your fine home state, Bill, people wouldn't have to kill each other over it. People don't end each other's lives over cigarette deals and back alley mango vodka fronts. So …
Not to mention that New York's murder rate is currently, oh, about 1,000 percent lower than it was back when even medical weed was illegal. Even if this year’s murder rate holds stays consistent through December (and it’s worth noting that we’re only dealing with eight weeks of data, here), New York would end the year with 383 murders during a year where weed was becoming increasingly legal nationwide. The city saw 2,245 murders in 1990, when no weed was legal anywhere. So blaming the city's murder mania on legal weed doesn't quite make sense.
Blaming the murders on Colorado and Washington's legal weed is nothing short of delusional and in blatant denial of New York City's own problems. How can something we do here in Colorado cause people to murder each other across the country? That's like Colorado saying that New York's decision to ban super-sized soda cups is what's making Colorado skinny.
Another NYPD official said the murders appear to be related to “ripoffs” – not turf battles, but attempted robberies gone wrong. How does legal weed play into this? Your guess is as good as ours.
Of course, if we want to paint a realistic picture of how legal weed influences murder, we can just look at crime data from states that already have recreational marijuana. Here’s what we know:
Homicides dropped 24 percent in Denver last year in 2014, the first year weed became legal. Robberies were down 3 percent. Burglary was down 9.5 percent. The only crimes that increased significantly were larceny (a property crime, not a violent crime) and arson, which seems unlikely to be related to marijuana, unless someone was trying to hotbox the entire city which seems really thoughtful. Overall, violent crime decreased 0.7 percent, and property crime dropped 2 percent. In the land of legal weed, no one is dying over it.
Seattle, where weed is also legal, also saw a drop in murders (from 23 to 26).
And sure, it may be too early to tell how deeply weed influences violent crimes given that we only have a year’s worth of data from Colorado and Washington … but Bill Bratton is making assumptions based on just eight weeks of 2015.
No one's saying that legalized weed in Colorado is responsible for the huge drop in murders, but one could certainly conclude that it hasn't made anything worse. One could also conclude that what's happening in Colorado probably has very little bearing on what's happening hundreds of miles away in a completely different state who's puritanical marijuana rules make weed dealing much more high-stakes and threatening.
In this day and age, it's vital to have community leaders such as police commissioners who are educated about the problems their cities face. Having someone in power who's ignorant about the real effects of marijuana, as well as quick to blame their own problems on the actions of other faraway states, can be dangerous. It's that kind of close-minded dogma and naivety that lead to abuses of the justice system, wrongful convictions, and an inability to address the real problems a city faces.
But while Bill Bratton seems to have a huge problem with legal weed, he does talk like he's been smoking it. Try a nice sativa next time, Bill, it'll make you less paranoid.