Study: Adult-Use Marijuana Laws Not Associated with Increased Criminal Activity in Neighboring States

Salt Lake City, UT: The enactment of laws legalizing the commercial production and retail sale of marijuana to adults is not associated with an increase in crime in neighboring states, according to data published in The Journal of Drug Issues.

Researchers with the University of Utah and the University of Mississippi assessed the relationship between adult-use marijuana laws and changes in criminal activities in neighboring jurisdictions that had not legalized.

Authors reported no evidence to indicate that legalization was associated with any increase in criminal behaviors in bordering states. Rather, they reported “some evidence suggesting a spillover crime reduction effect of legalization, as reflected by the significant decreases in the rates of property crime, larceny, and simple assault in the Colorado region that includes six neighboring states.”

They concluded: “This study provides some evidence demonstrating a crime-reducing effect of recreational marijuana legalization … on neighboring states. … This finding suggests that recreational marijuana legalization in a state may not bring about negative consequences on crime in neighboring states, which challenges the assertions made by public officials in these neighboring states arguing a crime-inducing effect of legalization.”

Full text of the study, “The spillover effect of recreational marijuana legalization on crime: Evidence from neighboring states of Colorado and Washington state,” appears in The Journal of Drug Issues. Additional information regarding cannabis liberalization laws and crime is available in the NORML Fact Sheet.