New research confirms that passage of medical cannabis laws contributes to significantly lower incidents of violent crime in border states. To explain this correlation, the study’s authors argue that regulating the production and sales of medical cannabis displaces illegal drug trafficking activities related to drug cartels based in Mexico.

According to the data analyzed, violent crime fell by an average of 13% — with an even more dramatic decrease for drug-related homicide rates — after border states like Arizona and New Mexico legalized medical cannabis. The study also found that “[t]he reduction in crime is strongest for counties close to the border (less than 350 kilometres) and for crimes that relate to drug trafficking.”

While opponents of medical cannabis often use fear tactics and falsely claim that regulating medical cannabis will lead to more crime, this study provides further evidence that the opposite is true. Utah’s current policy of total prohibition only ensures that violent cartels will control the production and sale of cannabis.

The time has come for Utah to establish a well-regulated system that allows patients to safety access medical cannabis. It’s not only a matter of compassion, but also public safety.