Study: Adult Use Marijuana Laws Associated With Reduced Criminal Activity

ITALY: The enactment of adult use marijuana regulatory laws is associated with reduced levels of property crimes and violent criminal activity, according to data published in the Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization.

Investigators from Italy’s University of Bologna evaluated the association between the enactment of adult use regulations and county level crime rates in jurisdictions in close proximity to the Washington/Oregon border during the years 2010 to 2014. Researchers reported that crime rates fell significantly in counties in Washington, where voters enacted legalization in 2012, compared to proximate counties in Oregon – where voters rejected a similar initiative proposal that same year.

Specifically, legalization was associated with a decline in thefts, property crimes, and rapes. Authors attributed the crime reduction to several potential factors, including less alcohol consumption and the reallocation of police resources.

They concluded: “The concern that legalizing cannabis for recreational purposes may increase crime occupies a prominent position in the public debate about drugs. Our analysis suggests that such a concern is not justified.”

Their conclusions are consistent with those of prior studies finding that marijuana regulatory schemes are associated with reduced criminality and a decrease in alcohol consumption.

For more information, contact Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director, at: Full text of the study, “Crime and the legalization of recreational marijuana,” appears in the Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization.