Southwestern border states that legalize medical marijuana see a notable decline in violent crime rates, especially in border counties and as compared against states that do not, a recently released study concluded.

The study, published in the journal of the Royal Economic Society, is an effort to provide empirical evidence for the claim that the legalization of medical marijuana reduces the violent activity of Mexican drug trafficking organizations, which are overwhelmingly the suppliers of marijuana in America.

A drop in violence, the study’s authors argue, would be because legal marijuana regimes allow local farmers to enter the market, in turn cutting the profits for Mexican drug traffickers. Violence is expensive, they note, and so a cut in profits should drive down violence as traffickers have less incentive to use violent force to keep control of customers and territory.

To determine the effect of medical marijuana laws on violent crime rates, the study authors performed three comparisons: They studied crime rates in counties before and after the introduction of medical marijuana; then between counties with and without medical marijuana; and finally, between counties at the border and further inland.

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