How Marijuana Affects Crime

How Marijuana Affects Crime

Marijuana is often called a “gateway drug,” because though its use may not be as dangerous as heroin or cocaine, it often introduces an individual into the world of drugs, where more dangerous drugs are easily obtained. Once a person uses marijuana, they may be over the initial barrier to using drugs and may go on to use stronger drugs.

Recent research indicates that marijuana may also lead to other destructive behavior. The study, conducted by Willy Pedersen and Torbjorn Skardhamar of the University of Oslo and Norwegian Institute for Alcohol and Drug Research, was published in 2010 b the Society for the Study of Addiction.

The researchers wanted to study any connection that might be found between marijuana use during adolescence and young adult hood, and criminal charges.

To gather data for the study, the researchers used the Young in Norway Longitudinal Study. 1,353 individuals from a population-based sample were followed as they aged from 13 years to 27 years.

The researchers gathered information about marijuana use, but also examined the use of other substances, such as alcohol, amphetamines, cocaine and opiates. The individuals were also asked about socio-demographic factors, family life and personal questions. All of the data was matched with individuals’ information from Norways’ crime records.

The results of the study found that there was a strong connection between the use of marijuana and later criminal activity in an individual’s life, not only in adolescence but also as they matured to young adulthood.

The findings were adjusted for a range of variables, such as family socio-economic background, parental involvement, academic achievement and career success, previous criminal involvement, conduct problems and history of cohabitation and marriage. The researchers also controlled for these variables with separate models involving alcohol and other illegal substances.

After the findings were adjusted, the researchers still found a significant connection between marijuana and subsequent criminal charges. However, a strong association was no longer noted when drug-specific charges were eliminated from consideration in the criminal charges in the models.

The study’s findings indicate that there may be a strong connection between marijuana use and later criminal charges. However, because most of those criminal charges were related to drug use, it appears that the main problem that comes from using marijuana is that individuals are caught using it and distributing it.

The findings of this study may provide helpful information to policymakers who are in a debate about the possibility of legalizing marijuana. Further study may be helpful to determine the levels of marijuana use associated with criminal charges.


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