Effects of recreational marijuana legalization on clearance rates for violent crimes: Evidence from Oregon

Int J Drug Policy. 2022 Feb:100:103528. doi: 10.1016/j.drugpo.2021.103528. Epub 2021 Nov 19.


One important public concern about the impact of recreational marijuana legalization is how legalization may affect police performance in solving serious crimes. Based on Uniform Crime Reports (UCR) data from 2007 to 2017, this study used difference-in-differences (DID) analysis and the synthetic control method (SCM) to examine the effect of recreational marijuana legalization on the clearance rates for multiple types of violent crimes in Oregon (OR), a state that legalized recreational marijuana in late 2014. Results offer some evidence suggesting a beneficial impact of legalization on violent crime clearances, as manifested by significant increases in the clearance rate for overall violent crimes and that for aggravated assault in OR counties relative to those in the non-legalized states following legalization. Results also demonstrate that the positive effect of legalization on violent crime clearance rates appears to reduce over time.

Keywords: Clearance rate; Impact; Police effectiveness; Recreational marijuana legalization; Violent crime.

MeSH terms

  • Cannabis*
  • Crime
  • Humans
  • Legislation, Drug
  • Oregon
  • Police