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UCI Marijuana Legalization and Crime Discussion

UCI Marijuana Legalization and Crime Discussion

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Chapter 1

The criminal justice system is based in law. However, laws only reflect what societies agree should be the norm for behavior. What works or is acceptable or is normal in one society, in one place, or in one time period may be considered deviant in another society, place, or period of time. When a law or formal norm is broken, the criminal justice system is set into motion.

The main parts of the criminal justice system are law enforcement, the courts, corrections, and victim services. The actors in these different sectors interact in various ways with the offender and the victim in the process of protecting society, providing a fair trial, and carrying out punishment and rehabilitation.

The challenge is to administer justice consistently, to balance efficiency with fairness, to keep the system up to date, and to avoid undue influence from outside sources, such as the media and interest groups.

Chapter 2 

For 20 years after the FBI began compiling its Uniform Crime Reports in 1973, the incidence of serious violent crimes increased in the United States. After peaking in the early 1990s, the number of both violent crimes and property crimes reported to police has been declining, and rates of victim-reported and police-reported crime have been converging, for reasons not entirely understood.

Other important trends also stand out. On a global scale, the United States has a high murder rate, and within this country, murder rates are highest in the South. Males are more frequently victimized by all categories of violent crime except rape and intimate partner violence. Women are less likely to report a violent attack—especially rape, a crime in which perpetrator and victim very often know each other. Children are more frequently victimized by violent crime than are older people. Despite the great fear that crimes against people evoke, almost 10 times as many crimes against property are reported. Property crimes account for about three-fourths of all crimes reported in the United States, but as in the case of violent crime, the rate has been falling since the 1990s. Property crimes are usually less traumatizing, although white-collar crime can inflict devastating economic losses.

A common characteristic of public order crimes is that they are offenses against morality. Although they often are called victimless crimes, in fact many of them have negative consequences for the perpetrator as well as for others.

Drug offenses have been a great source of concern in the United States for a century. Although most crime is not drug related, drugs are a factor in both violent crimes (homicide, assault, and robbery) and nonviolent crimes (burglary and theft). Abusers can be physically and psychologically devastated by drug use. Enforcing drug laws and controlling drug-related crime has not been very successful. One significant impact of the U.S. “war on drugs” is an ever-rising proportion of persons incarcerated for drug-related offenses, including disproportionate numbers of women and racial minorities. A second major impact is the corrupting effect on the police and public officials that stems from organized crime’s domination of the drug trade.

Political crimes directly challenge government authority. They run the gamut from such relatively minor offenses as immigration law violations to major crimes against the state—espionage, treason, and terrorism.

In the United States, organized crime was once largely associated with immigrant ethnic groups. Organized crime is a serious problem in modern societies. It uses violence to exploit and profit from such public order offenses as prostitution, gambling, and drug trafficking. Organized crime frequently is implicated in the corruption of public authorities.


1. Review the PowerPoints and zoom lecture.   

2. Watch ALL the attached videos for background – 


3. Discussion topic#1 – Evolution of Marijuana Laws

Research the “Evolution of Marijuana Laws”. 

In our weekly discussion Post a pro/con debate for the legalization of marijuana.  Things have changed since Colorado.  

What ways have laws against marijuana reflect a consensus perspective.  

In what ways did you find or do they reflect a conflict perspective (people in power economically or politically making the decisions)?

4. Discussion topic#2 – Can Crimes Be Inherently Wrong?

Consider and post with a lists of at least three behaviors that you believe to be inherently wrong (mala in se) and why you believe them to be so? 

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