Document Type


Publication Date



Objective This study follows the lead of Makin et al. (Police Quarterly 22(1): 31–55, 2019) who found that marijuana legalization is associated with a marginal increase in clearance rates for some crimes but not for others.

Methods We build on their work attempting to replicate their findings by using the synthetic control method and fixed-effects models. A 50-state panel data set was constructed and analyzed. The dependent variables were aggregated violence and property crime rates. The independent variable was dichotomously measured recreational marijuana legislation.

Results Marijuana legalization is not a meaningful avenue of increasing clearance rates.

Conclusion The synthetic control method is useful for aggregate-level crime policy analysis when experimental methods are not available. The argument that the police would do a better job at reducing serious crime and/or arresting serious criminal offenders if they were not preoccupied with marijuana users is unfounded in this analysis.

Copyright Statement

This version of the article has been accepted for publication and is subject to Springer Nature’s AM terms of use, but is not the Version of Record and does not reflect post-acceptance improvements, or any corrections. The Version of Record is available online at: