The legalization of marijuana is associated with improvements in police clearance rates for multiple types of violent crimes, according to data published online ahead of print in The International Journal of Drug Policy

A pair of researchers affiliated with the University of Utah and the University of China assessed trends in crime clearance rates in Oregon versus control states in the years prior to and immediately following the enactment of adult-use legalization. 

Investigators identified “significant increases in the clearance rate for overall violent crimes and for aggravated assault in Oregon counties relative to those in non-legalized states following legalization.” They concluded, “The finding largely aligns with the argument made by the proponents of marijuana legalization that legalization would improve police effectiveness in addressing serious crimes, and as a result would increase clearance rates and generate a crime deterrence effect.”

Their findings are consistent with those of a prior study documenting improved crime clearance rates in Colorado and Washington following legalization, particularly for violent crimes and property crimes.

Commenting on the study’s findings, NORML’s Deputy Director Paul Armentano said: “These conclusions reaffirm the notion that states can sensibly regulate the adult use and sale of cannabis in a manner that doesn’t adversely impact public safety. Moreover, in some cases, legalization may contribute to an environment that positively affects police officers’ performance in solving serious crimes.”

Full text of the study, “Effect of recreational marijuana legalization on clearance rates for violent crimes: Evidence from Oregon,” appears in The International Journal of Drug Policy. Additional information is available from NORML in the fact sheet, ‘Marijuana Regulation and Crime Rates.’

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