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Is Legal Pot Crippling Mexican Drug Trafficking Organizations? The Effect of Medical Marijuana Laws on US Crime

Author

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  • Gavrilova, Evelina

    () (Dept. of Business and Management Science, Norwegian School of Economics)

  • Kamada, Takuma

    () (Division of Behavioral Science, Graduate School of Arts and Letters, Tohoku University)

  • Zoutman, Floris

    () (Dept. of Business and Management Science, Norwegian School of Economics)

Abstract

We examine the effect of medical marijuana laws (MML) on crime treating the introduction of MML as a quasi-experiment and using three different data sources. First, using data from the Uniform Crime Reports, we find that violent crimes such as homicides and robberies decrease in states that border Mexico after MML are introduced. Second, using Supplementary Homicide Reports' data we show that for homicides the decrease is the result of a drop in drug-law and juvenile-gang related homicides. Lastly, using STRIDE data, we show that the introduction of MML in Mexican border states decreases the amount of cocaine seized, while it increases the price of cocaine. Our results are consistent with the theory that decriminalization of small-scale production and distribution of marijuana harms Mexican drug trafficking organizations, whose revenues are highly reliant on marijuana sales. The drop in drug-related crimes suggests that the introduction of MML in Mexican border states lead to a decrease in their activity in those states. Our results survive a large variety of robustness checks. Extrapolating from our results, this indicates that decriminalization of the production and distribution of drugs may lead to a drop in violence in markets where organized crime is pushed out by licit competition.

Suggested Citation

  • Gavrilova, Evelina & Kamada, Takuma & Zoutman, Floris, 2015. "Is Legal Pot Crippling Mexican Drug Trafficking Organizations? The Effect of Medical Marijuana Laws on US Crime," Discussion Papers 2015/5, Norwegian School of Economics, Department of Business and Management Science.
  • Handle: RePEc:hhs:nhhfms:2015_005
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    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/11250/274522
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    Citations

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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. repec:eee:jeborg:v:159:y:2019:i:c:p:502-525 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. repec:eee:jeborg:v:159:y:2019:i:c:p:488-501 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Benjamin Hansen & Keaton Miller & Caroline Weber, 2017. "The Grass is Greener on the Other Side: How Extensive is the Interstate Trafficking of Recreational Marijuana?," NBER Working Papers 23762, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Jörg Kalbfuß & Reto Odermatt & Alois Stutzer, 2018. "Medical Marijuana Laws and Mental Health in the United States," CEP Discussion Papers dp1546, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
    6. 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.
    7. 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 of Labor Economics (IZA).
    8. Chu, Yu-Wei Luke & Townsend, Wilbur, 2019. "Joint culpability: The effects of medical marijuana laws on crime," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 159(C), pages 502-525.
    9. Carrieri,V.; & Madio,L.; & Principe, F.;, 2019. "Do-It-Yourself medicine? The impact of light cannabis liberalization on prescription drugs," Health, Econometrics and Data Group (HEDG) Working Papers 19/07, HEDG, c/o Department of Economics, University of York.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Cannabis Legalization; Decriminalization; Crime;

    JEL classification:

    • H00 - Public Economics - - General - - - General
    • K00 - Law and Economics - - General - - - General (including Data Sources and Description)
    • K42 - Law and Economics - - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior - - - Illegal Behavior and the Enforcement of Law

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