Plenty of people feel that marijuana leads to crime and smokers are aggressive, violent, and irrational. In addition, the same people think marijuana smokers commit more property offenses and felonies than nonsmokers.
First, it needs to be pointed out that possessing marijuana is federally illegal. Even in states with legal medical marijuana, federal law still trumps state. The discussion here, though, is not whether possessing marijuana is a felony, but rather if using marijuana leads to violent criminal activities.
When marijuana first became a public concern in the 1920’s, critics disseminated stories about marijuana use leading to murder and mayhem. Eventually, the New York LaGuardia report concluded using marijuana resulted in “no aggressiveness or violent behavior observed.”
In the 1930’s, the murderous bandito stereotype was put forth by those promoting the prohibition of marijuana. The Bureau of Narcotics Director at the time promoted the notion that smoking marijuana resulted in a life of crime. In a 1937 American Magazine article, Anslinger warned of the “many murders, suicides, robberies, criminal assaults, holdups, burgleries, and deeds of maniacal insanity” caused by marijuana.
This myth has been disproved over and over again. The Shafer Commission in 1972 looked at this assertion and reported that “In most cases, the differences in crime rates between users and non-users are dependent not on marijuana per se but on other factors.”
Those who are delinquents and adult criminals do tend to smoke marijuana more frequently than the general population. When researchers control for these factors, over and over again the association between marijuana use and crime disappears.
Marijuana appears to actually have a calming and sedative effect, instead of violence. It was actually the association with alcohol intoxication noticed back in the 1930’s was causing violence rather than marijuana causing violence.
At any rate, marijuana causing violence is a myth and a better stereotype would be a laid back hippie.