Study: Adult Use Legalization Associated With Improved Crime Clearance Rates

Pullman, WA: The enactment of state laws regulating adult marijuana use is associated with an increase in crime clearance rates, according to data published in the journal Police Quarterly. Clearance rates are calculated by dividing the number of crimes that are ‘cleared’ (charges are filed) by the total number of crimes reported.

Criminologists at Washington State University assessed crime clearance rates in Colorado and Washington in the years immediately prior to and immediately following the enactment of adult use legalization. They reported that clearance rates were either flat or decreasing prior to legalization, but then improved significantly following the change in law – particularly with respect to violent crimes and property crimes.

Authors concluded, “[T]he current evidence suggests that legalization produced some demonstrable and persistent benefit in clearance rates, benefits we believe are associated with the marijuana legalization proponents’ prediction that legalization would positively influence police performance.”

Separate studies have previously reported an association between legalization and decreased criminal activities, including a reduction in incidences of violent crime.

For more information, contact Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director, at: Full text of the study, “Marijuana legalization and crime clearance rates: Testing proponent assertions in Colorado and Washington,” appears in Police Quarterly. Additional information is available from the NORML fact-sheet ‘Marijuana and Crime Rates‘.