High Crimes? The Effect of Marijuana Legalization on Crime in Colorado

68 Pages Posted: 15 Nov 2018

See all articles by Glenn Furton

Glenn Furton

Metropolitan State University of Denver

Date Written: October 23, 2018


The previous decade has witnessed a surprising number of states move to legalize cannabis for both medical and recreational use. This movement has caused controversy regarding the uncertainty of the effect of legalization on criminal activity. While few empirical studies have shed light on recent legalization and crime, economic theory suggests that a reduction in prohibitions ought not to cause an increase in criminal activity. This study examines the effect of the legalization of recreational marijuana in Colorado on crime rates among all individuals as well as those 21 years of age and under using a synthetic control method to construct a counterfactual state of Colorado. The results indicate that crime increases in all categories in Colorado, with an especially significant increase in property crime committed by adults.

Keywords: Marijuana Legalization, Decriminalization, Drug Policy, Crime Rates

JEL Classification: H75, I18, K14, K32

Suggested Citation

Furton, Glenn, High Crimes? The Effect of Marijuana Legalization on Crime in Colorado (October 23, 2018). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3271993 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3271993

Glenn Furton (Contact Author)

Metropolitan State University of Denver ( email )

890 Auraria Pkwy
Denver, CO 80204
United States

HOME PAGE: http://https://webapp.msudenver.edu/directory/profile.php?uName=gfurton

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