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Report: Marijuana Legalization Not Associated with Adverse ‘Spillover’ Effects in Neighboring States


marijuana plantThe enactment of adult-use marijuana legalization laws is not associated with any significant increase in cannabis-related activity in neighboring states and counties, according to a federally funded report published by the nonprofit Justice Research and Statistics Association and first reported by MarijuanaMoment.net.

The study, entitled “Measuring the Criminal Justice System Impacts of Marijuana Legalization and Decriminalization Using State Data,” assessed the impact of adult-use regulation schemes on criminal justice resources in both legalization states and neighboring non-legalization states.

Authors wrote: “The goal of this project was to analyze quantitative and qualitative data in eleven targeted states (Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Kansas, Nebraska, Nevada, Oklahoma, Oregon, Utah, and Washington) to address three research questions: One: What are the impacts of marijuana legalization and decriminalization on criminal justice resources in Colorado, Washington, and Oregon?; Two: What are the impacts on criminal justice resources in states that border the states (Nebraska, Nevada, Oklahoma, Utah, and Kansas) that have legalized marijuana?; and Three: What are the impacts of marijuana legalization and decriminalization on drug trafficking through northern and southwest border states (Arizona, California, Idaho, Oregon, and Washington)?”

They determined: “Analyses of the available data suggests that: One: Legalizing the recreational use of marijuana resulted in fewer marijuana related arrests and court cases; Two: Legalizing marijuana did not have a noticeable impact on indicators in states that bordered those that legalized; and Three: There were no noticeable indications of an increase in arrests related to transportation or trafficking offenses in states along the northern or southern borders.”

Commenting on the report’s findings, NORML Executive Director Erik Altieri said: “This federally funded report is further evidence that legalizing and regulating marijuana works largely as intended. It reduces arrests, and it does not lead to increased youth use or a rise in serious crime, and with these latest findings it is clear that these policies are not adversely impacting bordering states. It is time to let science and facts dictate public policy and end prohibition nationwide.”

A disclaimer accompanying the report acknowledges: “While the report was carried out … using funding from the National Institute of Justice, … this resource has not been published by the US Department of Justice. This resource is being made publicly available through the Office of Justice Programs’ National Criminal Justice Reference Service. … Any analysis, conclusions, or opinions expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views, opinions, or policies of the Bureau of Justice Statistics or the US Department of Justice.”

NORML’s Altieri said it was “unsurprising” that federal agencies would leave the report unpublished, stating that officials have seldom promoted findings that undermine federal anti-marijuana policy.

The full text of the report is available online here.

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