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Crime and the decriminalisation of cannabis

Publication date: Nov 19, 2010 09:40 AM

Start: Oct 20, 2010 10:30 AM
End: Oct 20, 2010 12:00 PM

Location: Brook House, UCL

Speaker: Professor Imran Rasul, UCL Economics

Audience: SECReT students

Dr Imran Rasul from UCL’s highly prestigious Economics Department, presented a seminar from a highly topical research study that looked at questions such as “what is the effect on crime of the decriminalization of cannabis possession?”; “can the changes in crime be understood in terms of behavioral responses of three types of agent: police officers, suppliers of drugs and consumers of drugs” and “can we use the results on drug related crimes and other crime types to shed light on potential re-allocation of police resources?” 

The seminar detailed the results of a policy experiment: decriminalization of cannabis possession in one London borough: Lambeth from July 2001 until July 2002. The Lambeth Cannabis Warning Scheme (LCWS) was introduced as a pilot project on 4th July 2001, to run for six months. Under the scheme, those found in possession of small quantities of cannabis for their personal use: (i) had the drugs confiscated; (ii) were given a warning - prior to the policy such individuals would have been arrested and an offence recorded.

Dr Rasul revealed that the data shows a surge in drugs offences that is qualitatively large and persists after the official reversal of the policy. Evidence also suggests a collapse in police effectiveness against drugs crime and he speculative conclusion that the policy led to growth in drugs market as a whole. 

Crime and the decriminalisation of cannabis seminar slides: Dr Imran Rasul, UCL SECReT