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Cannabis Control and Crime: Medicinal Use, Depenalization and the War on Drugs

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  • Huber III Arthur

    ()

  • Newman Rebecca

    ()

  • LaFave Daniel

    () (Department of Economics, Colby College, Waterville, ME 04901, United States)

Abstract

To date, 27 states and the District of Columbia have passed laws easing marijuana control. This paper examines the relationship between the legalization of medical marijuana, depenalization of possession, and the incidence of non-drug crime. Using state panel data from 1970 to 2012, results show evidence of 4–12 % reductions in robberies, larcenies, and burglaries due to the legalization of medical marijuana, but that depenalization has little effect and may instead increase crime rates. These effects are supported by null results for crimes unrelated to the cannabis market and are consistent with the supply-side effects of medicinal use that are absent from depenalization laws as well as existing evidence on the substitution between marijuana and alcohol. The findings contribute new evidence to the complex debate surrounding marijuana policy and the war on drugs.

Suggested Citation

  • Huber III Arthur & Newman Rebecca & LaFave Daniel, 2016. "Cannabis Control and Crime: Medicinal Use, Depenalization and the War on Drugs," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 16(4), pages 1-35, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:bpj:bejeap:v:16:y:2016:i:4:p:35:n:6
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Hunt, Priscillia E & Pacula, Rosalie Liccardo & Weinberger, Gabriel, 2018. "High on Crime? Exploring the Effects of Marijuana Dispensary Laws on Crime in California Counties," IZA Discussion Papers 11567, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    2. Chu, Yu-Wei Luke & Townsend, Wilbur, 2017. "Joint culpability: The effects of medical marijuana laws on crime," Working Paper Series 6141, Victoria University of Wellington, School of Economics and Finance.
    3. Brinkman, Jeffrey & Mok-Lamme, David, 2017. "Not in My Backyard? Not So Fast. The Effect of Marijuana Legalization on Neighborhood Crime," Working Papers 17-19, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.

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    Keywords

    Medical Marijuana Laws; depenalization; crime;

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