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The Intersection of Gender, Race, and Arrest in the Era of Cannabis Legalization

NCJ Number
Crime & Delinquency Dated: 2022 Pages: 1-24
Date Published
24 pages

This paper examines the National Incident-Based Reporting System’s monthly cannabis arrest rates in Colorado from 2010 through 2016, laying out the research methodology and discussion of results.


The War on Drugs resulted in increased arrest rates for women. Most of these arrests have been for low-level offenses, often involving cannabis. As states legalize cannabis, it is important to examine trends in arrests for women in a setting of early cannabis law reform. The authors examine National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS) monthly cannabis arrest rates in Colorado, one of the first two states to legalize cannabis for recreational purposes, from January 2010 through December 2016 using an interrupted time series approach. The interruption is conceptualized as the legalization of recreational marijuana in December 2012. The authors’ results document an immediate statistically significant and sizable drop in cannabis-related arrests for women following legalization, however, they note that troublesome racial and ethnic disparities persist. Publisher Abstract Provided

Date Published: January 1, 2022