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Survey: 3,615 officers weigh in on the impact of marijuana legalization on policing

Police1 and Louisiana State University (LSU) asked officers from across the country to share their opinions


In March 2020, Police1, in collaboration with Louisiana State University (LSU), conducted an expansive survey capturing law enforcement attitudes toward marijuana use and enforcement. A total of 3,615 sworn LEOs weighed in on a range of topics, from the use of medicinal marijuana off duty to decriminalization.

In our special coverage series, “Policing in an Era of Legal Marijuana,” Police1 is publishing several items as a result of the survey findings. Download the full results of the survey here.

1. Data Summary

The data summary provides an overview of the data and responses collected. Out of the 3,615 sworn LEOs who participated, 47% serve in a nonsupervisory position, 58% work in a municipal/city agency and 62% describe their current assignment as law enforcement operations. Those surveyed have a wide range of experience on the job – from one year to over 50 years – and 32% of respondents work in states where recreational marijuana is legal.

2. Expert analysis

Police1 columnist and Policing Matters podcast host Jim Dudley analyzes the results from the survey regarding personal drug use histories of the participants and LEOs’ attitudes to marijuana and enforcement.

Police1 columnist and police recruitment expert Matt Cobb asks whether the ever-increasing list of states becoming more lenient on marijuana should alter our hiring criteria.

While there is insufficient data to determine the true impact of legalized marijuana on crime, the traffic data offers a clear correlation. Police1 contributor Scott Bohn analyzes how marijuana legalization impacts highway safety.

3. grant-funding and training resources

As more states legalize marijuana sales – whether it be for medical or recreational use – and adjust drug policy, local governments look to adjust their response with many grappling with the effects of legalization. Grants that stem from marijuana sales consist of an array of programs. The PoliceGrantsHelp team provides an overview of funding available for youth programs that could help benefit police-community relations and youth outreach.

Drug interdiction is a high-risk activity in part because of the range of scenarios law enforcement officers will encounter. Are you dealing with an individual who simply has a stash on hand for personal use or a dealer involved in a large-scale operation? Will your subject react calmly to enforcement action or will they take desperate action to avoid arrest? Lexipol’s PoliceOne Academy team provides five tips for safe, legal and effective drug interdiction.

Download the full results of the survey here.

Nancy Perry is Editor-in-Chief of Police1 and Corrections1, responsible for defining original editorial content, tracking industry trends, managing expert contributors and leading the execution of special coverage efforts.

Prior to joining Lexipol in 2017, Nancy served as an editor for emergency medical services publications and communities for 22 years, during which she received a Jesse H. Neal award. In 2022, she was honored with the prestigious G.D. Crain Award at the annual Jesse H. Neal Awards Ceremony. She has a bachelor’s degree in English Literature from the University of Sussex in England and a master’s degree in Professional Writing from the University of Southern California. Ask questions or submit ideas to Nancy by e-mailing