Document Type



Master of Arts


Criminology and Criminal Justice

Date of Defense


Graduate Advisor

Elaine Doherty


Stephanie Di Pietro, Ph.D.

Lee Slocum, Ph.D.

Adam Boessen, Ph.D.


This work examines criminal effects of the legalization of recreational marijuana in the state of California in 2016. While multiple states have legalized marijuana for recreational purposes, there is little empirical evidence to determine the criminal effect, if any, of introducing marijuana products into the legal market. The research analyzes crime rates pre and post legalization. Crime rates from the years 1990-2018 are taken from the California Attorney General Office “Crime in California” annual report, and consist of FBI Part I offenses: murder and non-negligent homicide, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, motor vehicle theft, larceny-theft, and arson. Misdemeanor drug arrests, marijuana felony arrests, and non-marijuana felony drug arrests are also included. DUI arrests are sourced from the California Department of Motor Vehicles DUI management information annual report. Interrupted time-series analysis is the primary analytic strategy, in conjunction with descriptive statistics. Results suggest that legalization has had a non-trivial impact on some offenses, although there are severe data limitations in place.