Medical Marijuana and Crime: Substance Use and Criminal Behaviors in a Sample of Arrestees

Hyunjung Cheon, Scott Decker, Charles Katz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


After decades of prohibition, laws allowing marijuana use for medical and, in some cases, recreational purposes have been enacted across the country. To date, however, little is known about medical marijuana use, particularly regarding its relationship to criminal offending and use by nonauthorized persons. The current study bridges this gap by examining offending patterns in a sample of recent arrestees in Maricopa County, Arizona, identified and interviewed through the Arizona Arrestee Reporting Information Network (AARIN) project. Findings suggest that medical users had a higher probability for committing Driving Under the Influendce (DUI) and drug selling/making than nonusers, and diverted medical marijuana users had a higher probability for involvement in property crime, violent crime, DUI, and drug selling/making than nonusers. The results have important implications for developing marijuana decriminalization policies, criminal justice, and criminological theory. Directions for future research are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)182-204
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of Drug Issues
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1 2018


  • criminal involvement
  • medical marijuana
  • substance use

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Health(social science)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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