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Cannabis depenalisation, drug consumption and crime - Evidence from the 2004 cannabis declassification in the UK

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Nils BraakmannORCiD



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC-ND).


This paper investigates the link between cannabis depenalisation and crime using individual-level panel data for England and Wales from 2003 to 2006. We exploit the declassification of cannabis in the UK in 2004 as a natural experiment. Specifically, we use the fact that the declassification changed expected punishments differently in various age groups due to thresholds in British criminal law and employ a difference-in-differences type design using data from the longitudinal version of the Offending, Crime and Justice Survey. Our findings suggest essentially no increases in either cannabis consumption, consumption of other drugs, crime and other forms of risky behaviour.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Braakmann N, Jones S

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Social Science and Medicine

Year: 2014

Volume: 115

Pages: 29-37

Print publication date: 01/08/2014

Online publication date: 05/06/2014

Acceptance date: 04/06/2014

Date deposited: 04/06/2014

ISSN (print): 0277-9536

ISSN (electronic): 1873-5347

Publisher: Pergamon


DOI: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2014.06.003


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