Impact of recreational marijuana legalization on crime: Evidence from Oregon

Guangzhen Wu, Ming Wen, Fernando A. Wilson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


The legalization of recreational marijuana is a pivotal policy change, and its social consequences remain largely unknown. Central to the public concern is its impact on crime, about which competing views exist and empirical studies have yielded mixed results. Based on Uniform (UCR) data from 2007 to 2017, this study used Difference in Differences (DID) analysis to examine the impact of recreational marijuana legalization on the rates of a variety of serious crimes in Oregon, which passed its recreational marijuana law (RML) in late 2014. Results provide some evidence demonstrating a crime-exacerbating effect of recreational marijuana legalization, as reflected by substantial increases in the rates of multiple types of serious crimes as measured by the UCR in Oregon relative to non-legalized states following legalization, including property and violent crime overall, as well as other crimes such as burglary, motor vehicle theft, larceny, and aggravated assault.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number101742
JournalJournal of Criminal Justice
StatePublished - Jan 1 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Crime rates
  • Impact
  • Legalization
  • Recreational marijuana

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Applied Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Law


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