OMAHA – A new study from researchers at the University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO) indicates that Nebraska’s marijuana-related arrests and law enforcement costs both increased in Colorado’s first year of legalized recreational marijuana use.
The research compares marijuana-related criminal justice activity in 2014 to corresponding annual trends in the five years before recreational legalization (2009-2013).
Nebraska Center for Justice Research (NCJR) Director Ryan Spohn, Ph.D, and UNO doctoral student Jared Ellison wrote the study.
The NCJR is a multidisciplinary research center housed in UNO’s School of Criminology and Criminal Justice.
- - Nebraska’s marijuana arrest rate increased by about 11 percent between 2013 and 2014.
- - In general, counties along the Colorado border, in the panhandle and along Interstate 80 had the highest rates of marijuana arrests in 2014.
- - Overall, increases in the rate of marijuana possession arrests have been more substantial than increases in the rate of sale/manufacture arrests.
- - Counties along the interstate, and to a lesser extent those along the Colorado border, have been the most affected by increases in marijuana-related jail admissions.
- - Nebraska spent an estimated $10.2 million on enforcement of marijuana laws in 2014 (an 11.6 percent increase from dollars spent in 2013). Counties along Interstate 80 were responsible for the majority of this increase.
This is the NCJR’s first report analyzing marijuana arrests, jail admissions, and associated costs of prohibition in Nebraska following Colorado’s legalization of recreational marijuana. It follows a 2015 report that examined levels of marijuana-related criminal justice activity in Nebraska subsequent to Colorado’s legalization of medicinal marijuana.
The most recent report was published online this May and will be distributed to state legislators.
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