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Drugs, DUI, and Crime? What Are the Effects of Legalization of Marijuana in Colorado?

Award Information

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Congressional District
Funding First Awarded
Total funding (to date)

Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2016, $32,000)

This project will examine the effects of recent marijuana legalization in Colorado. Using a difference-in-differences analysis and the passage of Colorado’s Amendment 64 in 2012 as a natural experiment, this project takes a step towards addressing the lack of empirically reliable evidence related to the effects of legalization on the following outcome variables that are central to this debate 1) marijuana use, 2) illicit drug use 3), DUI rates, and 4) crime rates. Changes in in Colorado will be compared to respective changes in states contiguous to Colorado and the U.S. as a whole. The project will utilize official crime reports, victimization data, self-reported substance use, and fatal crash data. The difference-in-difference analysis provides the ability to control for any constant state-level characteristics that make Colorado different from the rest of the United States, which will provide empirically reliable results that are not confounded by larger trends.The multiple indicators and data sets used provide the most holistic assessment of the effects of legalization to date and also provide the ability to distinguish between focused policing effects and behavioral changes. Drawing upon foundational criminological perspectives rooted in routine activities and social learning theories and the outcome variables listed above that are central to this debate, I generate separate competing hypotheses concerning the effect of legalization. The final anticipated product of this examination will be reliable and holistic evidence of how marijuana legalization does or does not affect marijuana use, illicit drug use, DUI, and crime rates. The product of this dissertation will be beneficial for policy makers, criminal justice authorities, and the public alike. ca/ncf

Date Created: July 17, 2016