Report on the Effectiveness of Ordinance 910-23

It has been almost a year since Cincinnati City Council passed a law increasing the penalty for possession of marijuana from a $100 fine to a $250 fine and up to 30 days in jail. This report will examine how successful this law has been in achieving the results cited as the benefits of this ordinance. Those benefits were:

  1. It would reduce the number of people coming to Cincinnati from Kentucky and Indiana to buy drugs.
  2. It would allow police to do a more thorough search and reduce the number of guns on the street.
  3. It would allow police to arrest more drug dealers and reduce crime.

Taking these points one by one, how has the new law worked? (All statistics are from the Cincinnati Police Department.)

Question: Has it reduced the number of people coming from Kentucky and Indiana to buy drugs?

Despite what proponents of the new law said, the number of people coming from Kentucky and Indiana to buy drugs is very small. In 2005, 5406 tickets were written for marijuana possession. Less than 3% (158 people) of those who were ticketed in 2005 were from Kentucky or Indiana.

Percent of Tickets By State - 2005
State # of Tickets % of Total Tickets
Ohio 5230 89.37
Kentucky 144 2.46
Indiana 14 0.24
Other states 18 0.31
Unknown 446 7.62

The statistics for arrests under the new marijuana law:

Percentage of Arrests by State - 2006
State # of Tickets % of Total Tickets
Ohio 2583 84.83
Kentucky 59 1.94
Indiana 9 0.3
Other states 13 0.43
Unknown 381 12.51

The number of people coming from Kentucky to buy marijuana has been reduced by 85 people, the number of people coming from Indiana to buy drugs had been reduced by 5 people, and the number of people coming from other states to buy drugs has been reduced by 5 a total of 95 fewer people coming from other states to buy drugs.

Answer: The new law has reduced the number of people coming from the targeted states to buy drugs. But statistics from both 2005 and 2006 show that buyers coming from Kentucky and Indiana are an insignificant part of the problem of drug sales in Cincinnati.

Question: Has it reduce the number of guns on the street?

It is impossible to know how many illegal guns are on the streets of Cincinnati.  There is no way to poll people on this issue: "Pardon me, Im conducting a survey. Do you possess an illegal firearm?"

But a comparison can be made between the number of crimes committed with guns in 2005, before the law went into effect, and the number of crimes committed with guns in 2006.  The results:

Number of Guns Used in Crimes
2005 2006 % Change
1124 1553 27.62

The number of crimes committed with guns increased by 27.6% between 2005 and 2006.  (These numbers reflect all types of guns, including handguns, rifles, shotguns, etc.)

The most common type of weapon carried by drug dealers is a handgun.  Looking at the data for handguns alone, we find:

Number of Handguns Used in Crimes
2005 2006 % Change
838 1006 16.7

Instead of the intended effect of getting handguns off the street and reducing crimes committed with them, the number of crimes committed with handguns actually increased by 16.7%.

Answer: The new law has not reduced the number of guns on the streets, nor the number of crimes committed with guns.

Question: Has it reduced crime?

An analysis of arrests for Part 1 crimes (serious offenses, usually felonies) in 2005 and 2006 shows:

Crime 2005 2006 % Change
Murder 69 80 15.9
Rape 61 64 4.9
Robbery 717 1034 44.2
Aggravated Assault 685 673 -1.8
Burglary 833 889 6.7
Larceny 2926 2882 -1.5
Auto Theft 543 471 -13.3
Total 5834 6093 4.4

Overall, Part 1 crimes have increased by 4.4%, including a 15.9% increase in the murder rate.

Answer: The new law has not reduced crime.

Conclusion

At the full Council vote on this ordinance, several council members expressed skepticism about its effectiveness.  That skepticism was well-founded.

While Ordinance 910-23 has succeeded in one area - reducing the number of people coming from Kentucky and Indiana to buy drugs - it has clearly failed in the two most critical areas reducing the number of guns on the street and the crimes committed with them, and reducing the amount of serious crime.

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