High on Crime? Exploring the Effects of Medical Marijuana Dispensary Laws in California Counties
*Names in bold indicate Presenter
California became the first state to legalize medical marijuana in 1996, and since then counties have established their own laws regarding medical marijuana use and production. This provides a rich source of data from 58 counties that vary in terms of types of cultivation allowed for residents and producers, the number of dispensaries allowed, among many other factors. The RAND Drug Policy Research Center has created a dataset that codes the ordinances for the various types of marijuana-related laws in all 58 counties in California over the period 1997-2014. We have also put together count data on the number of arrests by categories of crime in each county by year, in addition to other economic and demographic variables of these counties. I estimate difference-in-difference models that allow me to identify the extent to which more liberal supply provisions (allowance of dispensaries and large scale cultivation) are associated with different types of crimes. I find no direct evidence of an impact on violent crime arrests, but preliminary analyses show interesting results for some property crimes. Additionally, I find that types of arrests related to marijuana use, such as DUI and misdemeanor drug offenses, can help isolate the effect of changes in supply to changes in use.
- High on Crime APPAM gweinberger.pdf (746.9KB)