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Crime and the legalization of recreational marijuana

Davide Dragone (), Giovanni Prarolo (), Paolo Vanin () and Giulio Zanella ()

Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, 2019, vol. 159, issue C, 488-501

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.

Keywords: Cannabis; Recreational marijuana; Crime (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: K23 K42 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2019
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Working Paper: Crime and the Legalization of Recreational Marijuana (2017) Downloads
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Persistent link: https://EconPapers.repec.org/RePEc:eee:jeborg:v:159:y:2019:i:c:p:488-501

DOI: 10.1016/j.jebo.2018.02.005

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Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization is currently edited by Houser, D. and Puzzello, D.

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