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Crime and the legalization of recreational marijuana

Author

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  • Dragone, Davide
  • Prarolo, Giovanni
  • Vanin, Paolo
  • Zanella, Giulio

Abstract

First-pass evidence is provided that the legalization of the cannabis market across US states is inducing a crime drop. We exploit the staggered legalization of recreational marijuana enacted by the adjacent states of Washington (end of 2012) and Oregon (end of 2014). Combining county-level difference-in-differences and spatial regression discontinuity designs, we find that the policy caused a significant reduction in rapes and property crimes on the Washington side of the border in 2013–2014 relative to the Oregon side and relative to the pre-legalization years 2010–2012. The legalization also increased consumption of marijuana and reduced consumption of other drugs and both ordinary and binge alcohol. Four possible mechanisms are discussed: the direct psychotropic effects of cannabis; substitution away from violence-inducing substances; reallocation of police effort; reduced role of criminals in the marijuana business.

Suggested Citation

  • Dragone, Davide & Prarolo, Giovanni & Vanin, Paolo & Zanella, Giulio, 2019. "Crime and the legalization of recreational marijuana," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 159(C), pages 488-501.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jeborg:v:159:y:2019:i:c:p:488-501
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jebo.2018.02.005
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Carrieri, Vincenzo & Madio, Leonardo & Principe, Francesco, 2019. "Light cannabis and organized crime: Evidence from (unintended) liberalization in Italy," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 113(C), pages 63-76.
    2. Hollenbeck, Brett & Uetake, Kosuke, 2018. "Taxation and Market Power in the Legal Marijuana Industry," MPRA Paper 90085, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    3. Zambiasi, Diego & Stillman, Steven, 2018. "The Pot Rush: Is Legalized Marijuana a Positive Local Amenity?," IZA Discussion Papers 11392, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    4. Auriol, Emmanuelle & Mesnard, Alice & Perrault, Tiffanie, 2019. "Defeating Crime? An Economic Analysis of Cannabis Legalization Policies," CEPR Discussion Papers 13814, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Cannabis; Recreational marijuana; Crime;

    JEL classification:

    • K23 - Law and Economics - - Regulation and Business Law - - - Regulated Industries and Administrative Law
    • K42 - Law and Economics - - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior - - - Illegal Behavior and the Enforcement of Law

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